- Departments H–W
- Public Health
- Humane Division
- Animal Control
- Animal Bites
- Avoiding an Animal Bite
Avoiding an Animal Bite
You are more likely to be attacked by a cat or dog when the animal feels threatened, nervous, injured or is protecting property. For this reason, you should never approach an unfamiliar animal, a mother caring for her young, or one that is unaware of your presence. If you do encounter an animal that may attack, remain motionless and avoid eye contact. When the situation eases, slowly back away (do not turn your back on an aggressive dog) until you are in a safer area.
Steps to Prevent Animal Bites
- Calmly remove yourself and your dog from a threatening situation
- Complete a basic behavioral training and socialization course with your new pet
- Consult a professional to learn about suitable dog breeds for your household.
- Do not teach your dog aggressive games (i.e. wrestling, tug-of-war, etc.).
- Keep your dog on a leash whenever outside a fenced area.
- Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
- Spay or neuter your pet, as this usually reduces aggressive tendencies.
- Spend time with the dog before you acquire it, and use caution when bringing a dog into the home of a young child.
Following these suggestions is especially important in Missouri, where pet owners are responsible for any injuries or damages their dog may cause. In addition to financial responsibilities, pet owners must follow local and state ordinances regarding vaccinations to minimize risks for rabies and other diseases.
Additional Animal Safety Tips
Although the responsibility of control is focused on the pet owner, it is important for individuals to protect themselves around animals. Here are a few basic safety tips for children and those uneasy with dogs that will help minimize dog bites:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog or scream.
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by its owner.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, aggressive or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If approached by an unfamiliar or aggressive dog, remain still until you're able to slowly back away to a safer area.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to the owner and the nearest authority.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to authorities.