Dogs can be a wonderful part of our lives, but sometimes they bite. Approximately 5,800 dog bites were reported in Maricopa County last year. Children are most often the victims, with nearly half of all children in the United States bitten by their 12th birthdays.

Although boys in this age group have higher rates than girls the same age, all children should be taught how to interact with dogs and reduce their chances of being bitten. The Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL & SPCA) encourages responsible dog ownership, including training, socializing and neutering family pets to prevent dog bites. In addition to operating the state's oldest and largest no-kill shelter, the organization offers training, such as basic dog obedience and socialization classes for pet owners, as well as other affordable training sessions. Kids' camps, such as Camp Ruffin' It and classes teach children how to safely interact with animals. For more information on education programs, call (602) 273-6852, ext. 122.

For help with specific pet behavior issues, email mramos@aawl.org.

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