National Dog Bite Prevention Week next week

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- With several serious dog bites making news recently, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) wants to make sure you know what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.

It's all part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which kicks off May 18. MCACC is using the opportunity to educate the public about interacting safely with dogs.

"We've seen a slight decrease in the number of reported dog bites in 2014," said Al Aguinaga, MCACC field enforcement division manager. "Although our numbers are down, there is still a need to educate the public on how they can prevent dog bites."

Dog Bite Prevention Week is the perfect time to educate children on the importance of interacting appropriately with dogs. Teach kids never to hug or kiss a dog on the face. If your child is approached by a strange dog, teach him to stand still.

Remind children to never disturb a dog that is sleeping, playing with a favorite toy, eating or protecting its puppies. Parents are reminded to always supervise their children's interaction with dogs.

"All dogs can bite," said veterinarian Dr. Rodrigo Silva. "They are defending themselves. They are protecting themselves."

If you are a dog owner, there are steps you can take that may help prevent your dog from biting: spay or neuter your dog; socialize your dog so that he is comfortable in a variety of situations; train your dog and teach him manners so that you can safely control him; and don't encourage your dog to be aggressive -- even during play. Always supervise your dog when he is around children.

MCACC also reminds dog owners that bites which break the skin must be reported to Animal Care & Control. Dog bites can be reported online at Dogs who have bitten but who are licensed in Maricopa County and current on rabies vaccinations may be eligible for at-home quarantine.