A dog’s bark may be worse than his bite, but none of us want to test that theory. Whether or not you have dogs in your home, there’s a grave importance in teaching children how to appropriately meet and interact with dogs. When kids and animals know how to interact respectfully, it helps safeguard against accidents.
This week, we partnered with Rady Children’s Hospital for a joint press conference on this topic, because it’s always a good time to be reminded of our responsibility to keep our children and animals and each other safe.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, kids are the most common victims of dog bites, and most are bitten by a family dog or another dog they know. But this shouldn’t discourage parents from getting a dog.
The day we brought home my first ever dog as a kid, Cocoa, a 75 pound chow mix fuzz ball from a shelter (of course), will forever be my fondest childhood memory. She fueled my passion and love for animals and was the listening ear (and tail) that would stay with me for more than 17 years. My childhood would not have been the same without her.
So the answer is not to protect kids from the wonders of pets but rather to remind all of us that any dog can bite. Even when they’re wagging those tails. And we can never let that happen to our kids. It’s our responsibility as pet owners to be aware of the warning signs and intervene when we see those signs. It’s for the safety of humans as well as our animals.
To help keep our community safe, San Diego Humane Society offers a Junior Trainers class to help kids ages 6-12 learn to safely and appropriately interact with dogs, as well as Dogs and Storks™ and Dogs and Toddlers™ workshops. It’s never too early to teach children appropriate interaction with animals. With a little training, patience and adult oversight, children can have those same fond memories of their first dog that many of us have had and also learn the value and joy of saving a life that needs you.
Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society