Though dogs are known to be man’s best friend, there are times when even our best friends have bad days or get provoked into biting.
Personal injury attorneys see thousands of injury cases involving dog bites, many occurring to children, every year and have learned that of all children bitten by dogs, younger children are particularly vulnerable and more likely to be bitten.
Because it is not always the dog’s fault, it’s important that parents understand the circumstances under which their children might be bitten even by normally friendly dogs and take steps to prevent those bites any associated dog bite claims.
Children Receive Half of All Dog Bites
There are estimated to be more than 80 million dogs owned by Americans today, making them the favorite pet throughout the nation.1
Though most pet dogs never bite a person in their lifetime, these millions of dogs are still responsible for approximately 4.5 to 4.7 million dog bites per year.2,3
Of these incidents, personal injury attorneys who handle dog bite claims point out that nearly a million dog bites require medical treatment and nearly 500,000 are considered serious.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that over 51% of these bites occur to children and dog bites are the second most common reason for children to be seen at an emergency room.3
Younger Children Especially Vulnerable to Dog Bites
According to multiple dog bite studies, the majority of children bitten are under the age of 10, with toddlers making up a large percentage of those cases.
Personal injury lawyers who handle such injury claims find that most of these bites were made at home by the family dog or a dog owned by friends or family in a different household and there are a number of reasons why this is so:
- Unpredictability - Children and dogs both are unpredictable. Children are loud, do not understand to respect a dog’s personal space or their food, and may do things or make movements that dogs could interpret as a threat.
- Territorial Behavior - Dogs can get territorial over beds, food bowls, and even their own yards. Most children do not understand this behavior, a dog’s body language, or when they are threatening a dog’s territory.
- Pain, Discomfort, and Surprise - Children often inadvertently cause pain or discomfort to dogs by pulling on ears and tails, hitting or punching them, grabbing them, and other similar actions. Dogs can also be surprised by unexpected movements or actions perceived as attacks, leading them to bite in defense.
- Restraint - Forced hugging, restraint, and even children falling on them are other things that can lead to bites.
- Body Language - When children are unable to recognize warning signs that a dog is feeling uncomfortable such as growling, lip-lifting and licking, glancing, and similar behaviors, bites can result.
Prevent Dog Bites to Kids Through Awareness
Children and especially those under the age of 10 may not understand how their actions can make even usually loving pet dogs nervous from time to time.
Based on this fact, personal injury attorneys stress the importance of parents educating their children to be respectful to dogs as much as possible and always supervise when kids and dogs are together.
Needless to say, known biters or unpredictable dogs should never be left alone with children.
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1Statista, Number of Dogs in the U.S. 2000-2017, November 27, 2019
2University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Home and Yard Safety, Dog Bites, Facts and Figures: "Facts and Figures About Dog Attacks", 2020
3Kids-n-K9s, Dog Bite Statistics for the United States, 1998