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Dog Bite Prevention

The Department of Health investigates approximately 1,000 bite and scratch exposures annually. As the animal enforcement authority for Baltimore County, the Department of Health works to ensure the safety of the public by educating pet owners and enforcing laws pertaining to pets.

There are many reasons why a dog will bite. Dogs may bite out of fear, to establish dominance over the person bitten or to protect their territory; however, the good news is that dog bites can be prevented!

 Tips for Children

  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.

  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

  • Do not to chase or tease dogs.

  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.

  • Do not scream and run from a dog.

  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.

  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.

  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog (for example: wrestling).

  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.

  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.  

  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.

Tips for Parents

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.

  • Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.

  • Teach children basic safety around dogs and review practices regularly.

  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.

  • Use caution when bringing a dog into a home of an infant or toddler.

  • Be sensitive to clues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog.

  • Spay or neuter your dog (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).

  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household.

  • Immediately seek professional advice (for example: from veterinarian, animal behaviorist or responsible breeder) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

Tips for Dog Owners

  • Make sure your property fence enclosures are escape-proof.

  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times when off your property.

  • If your dog is aggressive, muzzle it when off your property.

  • Post "beware of dog" warning signs on your property to help prevent your dog from biting someone over the fence.

  • Keep your dog's vaccinations for rabies current.

  • Train and socialize your dog.

  • Have your male dogs neutered.

What To Do if You Are Bitten

  • Report the incident to the police.

  • If the wound is severe, get medical help. Call your family doctor or go to the closest hospital emergency room.

  • Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and water. Scrub the bitten area gently.

  • If possible, get the owner's name, address and phone number.

  • Find out if the animal has a current rabies shot and write down the rabies tag number.

File a Report

Animal Bites

Baltimore County Police Department
Phone: 410-887-2222

Sick, Injured or Dead Animals

Baltimore County Animal Services
Phone: 410-887-PAWS (7297)

Rabies Concerns

Rabies Investigation Field Officer
Phone: 410-887-5963

Stray or Lost Animals

Baltimore County Animal Services
Phone: 410-887-PAWS (7297)

Revised July 12, 2017         


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