With warmer weather and increased outdoor activities throughout the county, El Dorado County Animal Services is sharing safety tips with the public to prevent dog bites.
According to Animal Services Chief Henry Brzezinski, 300 to 400 dog bites typically occur in El Dorado County each year, and most are avoidable.
Brzezinski said it’s important for dog owners to keep their dogs confined to their own property or on a leash when off property. Dogs running loose, particularly those acting aggressively, and all dog bites should be promptly reported to Animal Services, which enforces county, Placerville and South Lake Tahoe leash laws.
“If anyone is concerned about stray dogs or dog bites, they should contact our office,” said Brzezinski. “Life-threatening animal emergencies should be reported immediately by calling 911 or Animal Services.”
“We are fortunate to live in a beautiful rural county and dog owners often mistakenly believe it is acceptable to let their dogs run at large or that their dog won’t cause a problem,” said Brzezinski. “But this creates a danger to the dog and other residents.”
Brzezinski said the owner of the dog can be held financially liable if the dog injures someone, and the county can impose civil and criminal penalties if warranted.
To keep everyone safe, Animal Services recommends the following:
Keep dogs properly confined on your property, and leashed when walking in any public places other than designated off-leash areas. Do not tether your dog; it promotes aggression and is illegal if done improperly.
Instruct young children to never approach dogs without adult supervision and the adult asking the owner about the dog’s behavior, and never try to touch a dog that has a bone or a treat.
Use caution with dogs with puppies; instruct children not to scream or run near dogs; don’t taunt a dog, or pull an animal’s tail or fur; and keep your face away from dogs’ faces when approaching or playing with them.
When walking, consider crossing the street rather than getting close to a passing dog, even if it’s on-leash with its owner.
If a dog threatens you, remain calm and back away slowly, putting any barrier available between you and the animal. Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog, and call for help if the dog tries to bite you.
Maintain your dog’s current license and rabies vaccination, in case your dog gets lost or bites someone.
Spay or neuter your dog. Eight-five percent of dog bites are by male dogs that aren’t neutered.
For more dog bite prevention tips, or to report a lost, loose or aggressive dog, contact Animal Services at 530-621-5795 on the West Slope of El Dorado County or at 530-573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe or visit www.edcgov.us/animalservices.