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Community Development

Animals and pets

Dog bite prevention

Animal Protection and Control urges you to keep the following safety tips in mind when you encounter a dog.

When approaching a dog:

  • Ask first. Before petting someone's dog, ask the owner if it's okay. Let the dog sniff you first, then gently pet the dog's sides or back.
  • Never sneak up on or pet a dog that is eating or sleeping. Animals may bite when they're startled or frightened.
  • Never pet a dog that is playing with a toy. Dogs are often protective of toys, and may think you are trying to take it.
  • Never approach a dog that is behind a fence. Most dogs naturally protect their property and home.

If a dog attacks suddenly:

  • Don't scream and run. Stand very still, try to be calm, and avoid eye contact.
  • Distract the dog. Feed the dog your jacket, your purse, or anything that may distract it and give it something to bite besides you.
  • Curl into a ball. If you fall or are knocked down, curl into a ball with your arms and hands over your head and neck. Try not to scream or roll around.
  • Never turn your back or run away. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase and catch you. Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until it is out of sight.

More than 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. More than half of all dog bite victims are younger than 14, and 150,000 of these bites are serious enough to require an emergency room visit.

Last year, Clark County Animal Control Officers responded to approximately 250 reports of animal bites and more than 1,000 reports of vicious behavior by dogs.


Browse for information
  • Dog bite prevention training - Animal Protection and Control provides dog bite prevention training for schools, service groups, public agencies and other interested parties. Call (360) 397-2375 ext. 5852 to schedule a presentation.
  • Report dog bites to Animal Protection and Control at (360) 397-2488.
  • Rabies information (PDF)
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