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Dog Bite Injuries & Children: Keeping Your Kids Safe

The McClellan Law Firm

It's a lesson that many parents learn only when it is too late: Even the friendliest dogs can become fearful and aggressive around little children. It’s important to know what you as a parent can do to protect your child. Learning the warning signs can help you avoid a tragic attack.

Dog Bite Statistics in the United States

Last week, a six year-old boy was killed by his family pit bull in Union City, California. He is certainly not the first boy in the state of California to be killed or injured by a dog attack. Every year, 60% of the 4.5 million dog bite incidents that occur in the United States involve children who are less than 15 years of age. Of those children, boys between ages the ages of five and nine are most likely to be bitten.

Tips for Protecting Your Child From a Dog Attack

Here are a few tips to help you as a parent prevent dog bite injuries:

  • Keep your youngest children away from dogs altogether when they are not with you, especially strange dogs. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Tell older children to stay away from any dog whose owner is not nearby.
  • If the owner is present, you or your children should ask if the dog is friendly and likes children. If the answers to those questions are yes, then ask the dog's owner if you / your children can pet it.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is eating, sleeping, or playing with a toy. These are among the most likely scenarios for a dog to attack.
  • Teach your child to never get between dogs who are fighting. Even if your family dog is fighting with another dog, make sure your child does not interfere, and instead gets an adult.
  • Teach your children to approach dogs with a flat hand and watch for the dog's mood. A dog whose tail is wagging is probably safe; one that has his / her tail between their legs or raised straight up could be dangerous. Also, tell your child to watch for a closed mouth or stiff body.
  • If a dog appears aggressive, children should be taught to stand still and look away from the dog. Instruct your child not to make eye contact with a dog that might be aggressive.

Remember: These rules apply to all dogs, including dogs you know well. Dogs will react when they are afraid or angry. A dog that is growling, hiding his or her tail or standing stiff is a dog to avoid. It is not a good idea for a child to interrupt even a family dog during feeding time or while the dog is sleeping, or to take a toy or any other item out of the dog’s mouth. Encourage your child to behave with caution around dogs and to come and get you if they ever feel uncomfortable.

When choosing your own family dog, do your research on choosing a puppy or grown dog that is child-friendly. Breeds don’t matter as much; every breed can make for a good family pet. Individual personality is what counts. Talk to the breeder or shelter staff; ask for advice and recommendations. They want your dog to be a perfect match, too! Research training advice and techniques so that you can ensure you know what you are doing and will be able to control your family dog.

If a dog bit your child and you are wondering if you can recover compensation for his or her injuries, please visit our pages on injuries to children. Our staff is passionate about protecting our clients’ rights. Call The McClellan Law Firm at (619) 215-1488 right away to schedule a free case evaluation.