According to the Centers for Disease and Control, approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. One out of every five dog bites requires serious medical attention - 1 out of 5! Children ages 5 to 9 are often the victims of these dog bites.
Shock and Awe
Over the years, I have seen many dog bite cases and met with many victims as well as dog owners. Almost all the time, the owners of a dog that has bitten someone are shocked that the family dog could do so much damage. In many cases, these dogs do not have any history of biting -- and no one breed of dog bites more than others.
All dogs have the capacity to bite. Even dogs that ‘love’ children. When a dog does have a history of biting, euthanization is often the outcome of a repeat bite offense. This is a sad reality considering that most dogs that bite are simply scared, feel threatened, or feel like a family member might be in danger.
Protecting Your Child (and Your Dog!)
There are some things that you can do to make sure that your child does not become the victim of a dog bite. There are also some things that you can do to ensure that your dog does not bite someone else. These things go hand-in-hand.
- Do not let your child approach a dog to pet it. No matter what.
- Even if a dog owner assures you that a dog has never bitten a child before. Do not let your child pet random dogs.
- Do not run from a dog or scream at a dog.
- If your child is approached by a dog, teach your child not to move. Remaining still is the best thing to do. If knocked over by a dog, it is recommended that your child roll into a ball and remain motionless. Do not try to attack a dog that is attacking.
- Do not allow a child to play unsupervised with a dog.
- Children should not have direct eye contact with a dog at any time.
- Stay away from dogs that have puppies, are eating, or are sleeping.
- Dogs must sniff and see a child before that child can pet it.
If you have a dog, it is your duty to keep your dog safe as well. To avoid any chance of your dog biting someone, keep these things in mind:
- If a child approaches your dog, do not let that child pet your dog.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
- Make sure that your dog is supervised.
Staying Alert and Aware
It doesn’t matter if the dog that your child wants to pet is a poodle or saint bernard - do not let your child pet any strange dog! There’s always time for a first victim - remember, most children that are bitten by dogs are bitten by dogs that DO NOT have a history of biting! Please keep your children safe and follow these tips!