DENVER, June 3, 2009 – Every year in the U.S., 3.5 million children are bitten by dogs, and it is estimated that by age 12, half of all children in this country will experience a dog bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To address this problem, the American Humane Association has created “American Humane KIDS: Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely™,” a unique, first-of-its-kind dog-bite prevention program designed for children ages seven and under.
“We designed the program to fill the critical need for a dog-bite prevention effort for younger children, ages four to seven,” said Jane Greco Deming, director of Humane Education for American Humane. “Most programs are designed for children over eight, but those who are younger than seven are most likely to experience severe injuries to the face, head and neck.”
The American Humane KIDS program does not frighten children, but teaches them consideration for dogs' feelings in certain situations. For example, a KIDS teacher might ask, "How do you think Fluffy feels when Haiden is pulling on his tail?" This approach will tap into children's instinctual sense of empathy in a way that's easy for them to grasp at a young age.
American Humane believes that the ultimate result of the KIDS program will be a reduction in the number of dog-bite injuries and emotional scars affecting children; lower medical costs and fewer insurance claims associated with dog bites; and a decrease in the number of dogs relinquished to animal shelters or euthanized for biting children who may have unknowingly provoked them.
The KIDS curriculum meets national standards of education while providing character lessons. It includes games, activities, worksheets, songs, a coloring book and a live-action DVD. The coloring book reinforces the lessons with situations in which young children may encounter dogs and provides guidance on what they should do. The materials are available for purchase online at www.americanhumane.org/store.
To prevent dog bites, adults should teach children:
Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without its owner, and always ask the owner’s permission before petting it.
Never approach an injured animal – go find an adult who can get it the help it needs.
Never approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, nursing or has something it likes – like a bone or toy.
Don’t poke, hit, pull, pinch or tease a dog – the dog may not realize you’re just playing.
Don't chase or run from a dog.
According to the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association, in the United States:
- Every 40 seconds, someone seeks medical attention for a dog-bite-related injury.
- Children under 15 make up approximately 70 percent of all dog-bite victims.
- Almost two-thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region.
About American Humane
Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link® between violence to people and violence to animals, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane’s regional office in Los Angeles is the exclusive authority behind the “No Animals Were Harmed”® end-credit disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane’s office in Washington, D.C., is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. The American Humane® Certified farm animal program is the nation’s original independent certification and labeling program for humanely raised food (www.thehumanetouch.org). American Humane meets the strong, comprehensive standards of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, has been awarded the Independent Charities of America’s “Best in America” Seal of Approval, and has met the stringent standards for financial efficiency and accountability required by the American Institute of Philanthropy to qualify as a Top-Rated Charity. Visit www.americanhumane.org to learn more.