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Children and Dog Bites

By Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie on December 29, 2019

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More than four million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The dog-bite injury rate is highest among children ages five to nine. Dog bite injuries are usually more severe in younger children, requiring hospital stays and reconstructive surgery in severe cases. The good news is that with the right strategy, many dog bites can be prevented.

Why Do Dogs Bite Kids?

Dogs can bite for different reasons. They are pack animals, and much of their behavior is based on instinct.

  • Dogs may consider themselves superior to young children because of their relatively smaller size and may display protective behavior toward persons, possessions, or territory.
  • Younger children may not understand the concept of boundaries, and this can lead to problems.
  • Dogs may bite if they are provoked by a child who is pulling on their ears, tail, etc., if they are sick or injured, if a child startles the dog, or if the child is running and the dog views the child as prey.

Why Are Dog-Bite Injuries More Serious in Children?

Most dog bite injuries sustained by children are in the head, neck, or face. The face and neck of a small child are easily reached by a vicious dog. This is unfortunate, as dog bites in a child’s head, neck, or facial regions are more likely to require surgery and reconstructive procedures.

How Can Dog Bites Among Children Be Prevented?

Age is an essential factor when children are interacting with dogs. Children younger than four or five years may have trouble understanding the guidelines. If a dog is introduced into the family setting before the children reach school age, pet owners and parents need to be extremely vigilant. School-age children can be taught specific rules to help them avoid being bitten. The following are some examples of the rules:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run away if a dog approaches you.
  • Always let a dog sniff you before petting it.
  • Only play with a dog with adult supervision.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or taking care of puppies.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

If a dog bite is minor and did not break the skin, it may not require medical treatment. If the bite punctured the skin, get prompt medical treatment. Researchers found that dogs have 20 different microbial species living in their mouths in a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). When a dog bite punctures the skin, the teeth drive the bacteria under the surface, which can lead to a serious infection days after the injury. Dog bites that cause skin injury should be seen in an emergency room, where the wound can be cleaned, and antibiotics can be prescribed.

Recovering Compensation for Dog Bites in California

California has strict liability dog bite laws. This means dog owners are liable for damages when their dogs bite, provided the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place when bitten. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, call Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474. Our Orange County personal injury attorneys can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.

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Posted in: Dog Bites

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