National Dog Bite Prevention Week is observed annually the third full week of May. The 2016 event, spearheaded by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), takes place May 15-21 and focuses on educating people about preventing dog bites. This year, Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, is asking the pet-owning public to heed advice from its pet-sitting members to help prevent dog bites and attacks from occurring while a dog is being walked by a professional pet sitter.
The Danger of the Friendly Stranger:
According to the AVMA, more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year—and almost one in five people bitten requires medical attention. For professional pet sitters, this concern is top of mind year round.
Unfortunately, well-intentioned pet lovers often don’t think twice about approaching to pet a dog on a walk. For professional pet sitters—whose top priority is to ensure the comfort and safety of pets in their care—this uninvited attention can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous.
While dogs in their care are very unlikely to display aggressive tendencies, dog behavior can be unpredictable in new situations or around new people. And as professional pet-care providers, their goals are to remain in control and to prevent any situation that could pose a threat.
To ensure safety, many of PSI’s pet-sitting members indicated they inform pet owners that even for humans or other dogs the clients’ pets may know, they don’t allow interaction while they are on dog walks.
While clients may be familiar with a pet sitter’s policies, pet sitters encounter others on walks who will not be—and pet sitters have to decide how to respond. Pet owners are urged to make eye contact with the pet sitter and ask for permission to interact with the dog(s) before approaching.
Loose Dogs: Nightmares for Pet Sitters:
When pet owners fail to properly contain their dogs, there can be serious consequences. In fact, loose dogs off their owner’s property inflicted 40 percent of all fatal human attacks in 2014, according to DogsBite.org.
When asked to stop and not pet a dog, most humans were happy to oblige, they also agreed that a threat much more difficult to control is an off-leash dog.
Professional pet sitters encourage pet owners to understand and abide by local leash laws—and to understand that even where off-leash walking is permitted, not every dog wants to socialize with other dogs.
Off-leash dogs can present a danger not only to the dog in the pet sitter’s care, but also to the pet sitter.
Pet owners and professional pet sitters need to work together to keep both dogs and people safe. Ultimate Pet Services has policies in place to avoid potentially dangerous situations and urges pet owners to be courteous of professional pet sitters walking dogs by not approaching them without permission and by keeping their own dogs on leashes.
To learn more about National Dog Bite Prevention Week, visit the AVMA website or contact Ultimate Pet Services.