11 JULY 2006 ninemsn.com.au (AAP) Dog Attacks Prompt Awareness Campaign

An increase in dog attacks on children has prompted calls for a nationwide safety awareness campaign.

Bark Busters, a dog training company, says an annual Dog Bite Prevention Week and safety campaign aimed at children would help raise awareness of dog attack risks.
The call came as a two-year-old Sydney boy underwent surgery for severe bites to his head, face, stomach and leg in an attack by an akita - a Japanese breed - at his Horsley Park home on Monday.

Bark Busters say dogs are responsible for about 13,000 attacks in Australia each year, most resulting in medical attention for the victims and some leading to reconstructive surgery.
About 60 per cent of the victims are under the age of 10, the organisation says.
Because of their size, child victims mainly suffer injuries to the head and neck.

Dog trainer Bryan Edwards said safety campaigns had been successful in the United States and that simple tips about how to approach and deal with dogs could reduce serious attacks.

Mr Edwards said parents should never assume their children are safe around dogs, even if the dog is familiar or a pet.
A study from the Medical Journal of Australia in 1997 revealed that 35 per cent of people bitten by dogs in Australia over a 12-month period were attacked in their own home, while 24 per cent were bitten in a friend's home.

©AAP 2006