Doggone Safe is a nonprofit group that works to prevent dog bites and support the victims of dog bites.
In 1998, 8-year-old Courtney Trempe was killed by a neighbor’s dog in Stouffville, Ontario. As a result, a panel of jurors made 36 recommendations for minimizing dog bites. Doggone Safe took those recommendations to heart and developed the Doggone Safe Mandate:
- to provide low-cost educational materials for use in schools
- to provide low-cost educational materials for use by community health departments
- to provide educational materials to veterinarians for office display
- to provide educational materials to family physicians for office display
- to provide information and resources on raising puppies and training dogs in ways that do not promote aggression
- to provide information and resources for parents and expectant parents with dogs
- to provide information and resources for professionals who must visit or enter the homes of people with dogs during the course of their job
- to promote the need for trauma counseling for dog bite victims and to provide victim support services
- to provide services for dog bite victims and their families
Doggone Safe has created the Courtney Trempe Memorial Fund for Dog Bite Victim Support, as well as support groups for dog bite victims. The website also features helpful information for parents whose children have been bitten and information about trauma counseling for children and parents.
Doggone Safe stresses the importance of reading dogs’ body language and understanding that certain behaviors can indicate aggression or imminent danger. If a dog consistently growls, guards things or areas against family members or guests, snarls, lunges on or off the leash, bites, or raises its tail when you or your child approaches, then it shows signs of aggression; get help from a behavioral specialist as soon as possible.
If the dog freezes, becomes suddenly stiff, curls its lip to show teeth, or stands with its front legs splayed, head low, and looks at you, a bite is imminent. Cease interaction with the dog, look away, and give the dog an opportunity to leave.
You can “learn to speak dog” on the Doggone Safe website, as well as resources for finding a trainer or behavior consultant. Doggone Safe sponsors the Be a Tree Program, which is a seminar designed for school-age children to understand safety around dogs and learn to read a dog’s body language. Workers who encounter dogs on the job can take advantage of Be Doggone Smart at Work, expectant parents with dogs can learn from Dogs and Storks, and parents with new babies and dogs can get help from Dog and Baby Connection.
More than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and children are most likely to be bitten severely. Twenty percent of all dog bite victims require medical attention.
Some dog bites are very mild, requiring no medical attention whatsoever. But dog mouths are full of bacteria, which can be introduced to humans when bitten. Medical risks of dog bites include:
- Puncture wounds and scars
- Broken bones
- Localized abscesses
- Generalized cellulitis
- Septic arthritis
- Septic peritonitis