AVMA adopts National Dog Bite Prevention Week

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The Executive Board approved the AVMA becoming the formal host of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The work involved with adopting the week will be an extension of ongoing AVMA efforts.

Since 1995, the Humane Society of the United States has sponsored National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The AVMA joined this effort in 1999, continuing its support through 2002, together with various co-sponsors, including the American Medical Association, National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, National Animal Control Association, State Farm Insurance Companies, and the U.S. Postal Service. In 2001, however, the humane society stopped formally hosting the week, shifting their priorities to other areas.

Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, vice chair of the Executive Board, questioned why the AVMA would become the host, when the HSUS began the observance.

Dr. Gail C. Golab, AVMA assistant director of professional and public affairs, said that various entities, including insurance companies, already recognize the AVMA as the experts in the field of dog bite prevention. And, since the AVMA is already involved in many activities associated with controlling dog bite injuries, it seems natural for the AVMA to adopt the week, especially since it's now motherless. In addition, the HSUS has directly asked the AVMA to become primary host of the event.

Hosting the week involves recognizing the third full week of May as National Dog Bite Prevention Week, educating the public about the preventable problem, promoting the need for dog bite safety education, and emphasizing responsible dog ownership through public education efforts.

Dr. Golab said efforts to promote the week could be simple or extensive, depending on what resources the AVMA wants to devote. Currently, plans for 2003 are similar to those for 2002. The AVMA will issue press releases detailing information available from the AVMA, and the association, through JAVMA and the AVMA Web site, will encourage members to observe the week.