Dog bites and other animal attacks
Did you know that from 1998 to 2005, the rate of dog bites requiring an emergency room visit or hospitalization rose 40 percent? 75 percent of the victims were familiar with the dog that bit them and the dog bites most often occurred in the home and yard.
Out of the almost five million people bitten by dogs every year in the United States, close to 900,000 require medical attention. Nearly 400,000 of those people are seriously injured by dog bites. Children are the most common victim of a dog bite. So what can you teach your child? Dog owners what can you do?
- The dog should never be left alone with a child less than five years of age. A young child may challenge or injure the dog unintentionally and the result could be tragic. Dogs and children should be separated at snack time so the dog doesn’t learn to steal food from tiny hands.
- The dog should have a place he can call his own, a retreat, a private room, a den. This can be a pen in the back yard or a crate in the house. The children should never be allowed to bother the dog when he is in his place.
- If the dog has access to a fenced yard, owners should make sure that neighborhood children cannot accidentally or intentionally tease him. Kids often begin by goading the dog to bark, then to snarl. Or they may throw things at him to chase him away from the fence. However it begins, the end result is usually the same: the kids learn that teasing the dog gives them a feeling of power tinged with the possibility of danger and the dog learns to hate kids. This hatred may be manifest as fear or as aggression, and may end when a child is bitten and the dog is taken to the pound to be placed in a new home, (if lucky).
- If the dog does not like the children, the children must change their behavior. Most dogs are wary of staring, of quick movements, and of high-pitched screams, all of which are typical of small children. Here’s a few hints to alleviate the tension between dog and children.
- Provide a crate where the dog can escape the attention of boisterous or over-zealous children.
- Teach children to leave Ranger alone when he’s in the crate, to pat him gently–no squeezing around the neck, please–and to leave him alone while he’s eating.
- Do not play tug-of-war with any dog who has access to children. A dog that learns to tug on any item will soon figure that anything he can grab is his, even if it’s a child’s toy, clothing, or appendage.
- Teach children not to run past the dog and scream, for this can excite the dog and lead to dominant and even aggressive behavior.
- Never tie a dog in the yard. Children tend to tease tethered dogs even without realizing it, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Many instances of dogs attacking children occur when the dog is tethered in the yard and a screaming or running child enters its space
A dog bite is traumatic injury for anyone, and children usually suffer the most. It only takes a second to change a child’s life forever. But both parents and dog owners have a responsibility to properly monitor their little ones. If you or someone you know has been bit by a dog, or another type of animal, I am happy to explain Minnesota law and how it impacts your dog bite case.