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Preventing dog bites

PLATTSBURGH - Summer has arrived and with that more people are out and about, along with their dogs.

For the last decade, the Clinton County Health Department has been working to educate youth on the proper ways to safely approach dogs and prevent bites.

"Children sometimes are somewhat aggressive when they approach," explained CCHD public information officer Laurie Williams. "Dogs are kid-magnets is what we always say."

The CCHD and the Foundation of CVPH provide videos to teachers on how best to teach children, specifically ages 5-9, how to safely be around dogs.

"We want to remind them, you ask permission when you approach a dog, whether you know the dog or not," Williams explained. "You need to let them smell your hand first. All those basic little things."

Since beginning the training, both Williams and senior public health sanitarian Rita Mitchell have noticed a decline in the number of bites.

"We'll never get to zero, but we're lower and we think it's because we've had this sustained outreach in the community every spring," said Williams.

However, despite declining numbers, Mitchell said they still receive notice of severe dog bites in Clinton County every day.

"People don't realize ... all dog bites that are treated get reported to us and we follow up to insure that the dog is up to speed on vaccinations. That there's been proper medical care," Williams explained.

Mitchell said the education provided to prevent dog bites isn't just for young children either.

"We try to educate the owners, too, on how to make sure their dog is properly socialized with people," she said. "That they don't keep an aggressive dog ... So, it grows up as a safe, family pet."

Some of the ways Mitchell suggests people can make their dog less aggressive is by getting them accustomed to children as a puppy, and have them neutered.

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