News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Shares Important Tips to Prevent Dog Bites in Children and Adults

April 8, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The second full week of April is celebrated annually as National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) would like to use this week to remind pet owners that any dog – even close family pets – can bite a person and cause injury.

Dogs are great companions and play many roles in people’s lives. They can be trained for search and rescue, to guide people with visual impairments, and to help in an array of other supportive services. However, like all animals with teeth, they can also bite.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), most dog bites are preventable, and yet more than 4.5 million people are bitten each year.

Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. DHEC is sharing resources below to help prevent dog bites in children and adults.  

  • DHEC’s Avoid the Bite, Do It Right flyer contains dog bite prevention tips for pet owners, parents and caregivers.  
  • AVMA’s website has great resources to help educate both adults and children on how to interact with dogs. Watch the entertaining and educational videos Jimmy’s Dog House as Jimmy the dog gives some simple lessons to improve your and your child’s understanding of our beloved furry friends.

In addition to serious injury, dog bites can also lead to potential rabies exposure, especially if the dog is not up to date on its rabies vaccinations. In the past decade, 18 dogs have tested positive for rabies in South Carolina and exposed multiple people and other pets.

“Keeping your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination is the easiest way to protect you and your family from this deadly virus,” said Terri McCollister, Rabies Program Team Leader. “Any mammal has the ability to carry and transmit the disease to people or pets. Therefore, give wild and stray animals plenty of space.” 

In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats, but pets are just as susceptible to the virus. 

If you see an animal in need, avoid touching it. Contact someone trained in handling animals, such as a local animal control officer, wildlife control officer, or a wildlife rehabilitator. An exposure means having direct contact (through broken skin or mucus membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.

If your pet is found with wounds you cannot explain, please consider that your pet could have been exposed to rabies and contact your local Public Health office. It is important to report all animal bites, scratches, and exposures to potentially rabid animals to DHEC.

To learn more about how to prevent dog bites, visit the AVMA



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