On July 16, 2018, a girl in Florida was attacked by a dog the family was pet-sitting. The 6-year-old girl was bitten on the neck and was rushed to the hospital after the attack. On the same day, In Britain, a 4-year-old girl was left with serious injuries to her upper body after a dog attack.
Earlier this year, a dog killed an 8-month-old baby in the home of a caregiver.
With incidents of dog attacks being reported every other day, are dog attacks on the rise? And what can parents do to protect their children?
CDC's safety precautions advisory
The CDC reports that children are at the highest risk of being bitten by a dog. And when this happens, the injuries and damage are more severe than the same injury on an adult.
In many recent cases that are being reported, the dog bites occur when dog sitting a neighbor's dog, or when a child is around an unfamiliar dog.
According to Woodland Hills personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers, “Many dog bites are … take place when the animal is surprised or afraid. Regardless of whether the dog is strange or familiar, dog bite injuries can be very painful and often require extensive and costly medical treatment.”
The best way to protect children is to never leave them unsupervised with a dog. This is particularly so if the dog in question is one the child is not familiar with.
Breed type is also an issue. With certain dog breeds having a history of dog attacks. Keep an eye out for certain breeds that could cause future issues.
In the CDC advisory on preventing dog bites, it notes that 36 percent of US households are pet owners. However, as the number of dogs in one's house increases, the likelihood of being bitten also rises. They state that adults with more than 2 dogs in their house are 5 times more likely to be bitten than those without dogs.
Dog attack statistics in the US
According to DogsBite.org, which gathers statistics from news reports, there were 39 dog bite-related fatalities in 2017. From 2005 to 2017, a 13-year period, canine attacks led to 433 US fatalities.
Among the dog breeds involved in these accidents, pit bulls led the chart as being responsible for 74 percent of the attacks. And pit bulls and American bulldogs combined contributed to 82 percent of the attacks logged in 2017.
In a 2008 study recording ER visits involving dog bites, 316,200 people were admitted due to dog-related attacks, averaging approx. 866 ER visits per day.
Rural areas had a higher rate of dog bite ER room related visits by at least 4 to 3 times. And such visits were highest in the Midwest and Northeast, and lowest in the West.
The types of dog injuries that occur with most frequency and that the ER study reported treatment of included the following:
subcutaneous tissue infections
open wounds of extremities
open wounds of the upper body
fractures of upper limbs
Dos and don’ts for preventing dog bite attacks
If you know you will be in an area where you or your child will see or be near dogs, don't pet the dog without express permission.
If you are approached by a dog, do not run. Hunting dogs see this as a cue to pounce.
If you notice a dog in the area without a collar, alert local authorities immediately.
If an unfamiliar canine confronts you, do not look directly at the dog. This can appear aggressive to the dog and prompt a similar aggressive response.
If you are attacked, use a clothing item as a shield. For example, a jacket, a purse, or an umbrella. If the attacks do not cease, curl up in a ball, and use your hands and arms to protect your neck and ears.
If you are injured, seek medical attention to prevent the injury from getting infected.
The majority of dog bites can be prevented with knowledge and careful attention to one's surroundings. Pets, and dogs in particular, are a wonderful source of companionship and love for individuals and families. Knowing how to prevent dog bites can help to preserve this relationship for pet owners across the US.
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