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Dog Bite Prevention

The connection between community safety and animal welfare is an important conversation. When conflicts between animals and people arise, local government agencies are called upon to respond through intervention and the development of prevention programs and policies that promote community safety. The Office of Animal Welfare urges responsible policies that prevent dog bites using two cornerstones to dog bite prevention:

  1. Address factors common to dog attacks by promoting responsible pet ownership and community education; and
  2. Strong enforcement of dog control laws and increased penalties for dog mismanagement

Did you know that more than 80 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans are not spayed or neutered? Or that almost half of these attacks involve children younger than age of five? By understanding the factors that are common among dog attacks, we can create programs that eliminate the very situations that are dangerous.

Dog Bite Prevention

Here is what you can do to prevent dog bites:

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This improves your pet’s overall and long-term health, and spayed or neutered animals are less likely to bite. This will also decrease your dog’s desire to roam free or fight with other animals.
  • Ensure your pet is healthy. Have your pet vaccinated against rabies and other preventable diseases. Dogs that are hurt or injured can be more aggressive because they don’t feel well or are in pain. Have regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Always see a veterinarian if your pet’s activity or behavior changes.
  • Socialize your dog. Dogs that are isolated, such as dogs that live the majority of their life chained or in a kennel, can become territorial and aggressive. Socializing your pet, especially at a young age, can help him to feel at ease around people and other animals.
  • Teach children how to appropriately approach and handle dogs. Many dog-on-human attacks occur with small children. Don’t ever leave a child unattended with a dog, no matter how familiar the dog is with the child. By teaching children not to approach a dog they do not know and how to properly pet or handle an animal, you can reduce the probability of a bite.
  • Always keep your dog under your control. Not only is it illegal in Delaware to let your dog free-roam, it is dangerous for them and for others. Free-roaming dogs can get into altercations with other animals or unfamiliar people. Obey leash laws. If you have a fenced-in yard, ensure all gates are properly locked.

More information on preventing dog bites

When dog attacks do occur, it is important for these cases to be properly investigated. If a dog is deemed potentially dangerous, based on the investigation, owners have a right to request a county Dog Control Panel. The Panel consists of experts in dog behavior, veterinary medicine, and law enforcement and hears cases of potentially dangerous dogs to make final determinations as to whether the dog poses a future public safety risk.

To Report a Dog Bite:

Delaware Animal Services will visit the home of any person that has been bitten or experienced exposure to blood or body fluids. This service is provided throughout the state of Delaware. DAS can be contacted 302-255-4646.

Return to Office of Animal Welfare home page.