Every year, children are seriously injured, permanently maimed and even killed due to violent dog attacks. Statistics show that pediatric patients represent the highest number of emergency room visits due to dog-bite injuries annually. Children can suffer detrimental physical and emotional consequences from these traumatic attacks. Preventing a dog bite injury is always better than trying to recover from an attack.
Teach Dog Safety
Although dogs have been known to attack children unprovokedly, many dog bites occur due to provocation or instigation. Children may not know how to properly approach, pet or play with a dog. They may not respect the animal’s personal space or know how to recognize the signs of a nervous or irritated pet. It is important for parents to introduce their children to the safe and correct ways of dealing with a dog. Examples include:
- Never approach a strange or stray dog.
- Do not approach a dog that is tied up, behind a fence or inside of a vehicle.
- Always ask the owner before petting a dog.
- Avoid going straight for a dog’s face, as many dogs do not like this.
- Never interrupt a dog while it is eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy or nursing puppies.
- Do not pull on a dog’s tail or fur.
- Always pet a dog gently, with an open palm.
- Avoid rough behaviors or a wrestling style of play with a dog.
Children should be taught that dogs are living, feeling creatures who can have complex emotions – they are not toys or objects. Dogs can react negatively to stimuli they view as threatening or if they are startled. This could easily result in a painful dog bite injury for a child. Teach your children to be cautious around dogs, including the family pet. Always supervise your child around a dog, even if the dog is considered friendly.
Learn the Warning Signs of a Dog Attack
In many cases, dogs give warning signs when they are irritated, nervous or about to attack. Knowing how to identify these warning signs could allow you to remove your child from a dangerous situation and take action before the pet snaps. Reading a dog’s body language can help you determine when it might bite. Although each dog is unique, the following are common signs that a dog is ready to bite:
- Persistent barking
- Growling, snarling or snapping of the jaws
- Drooling or foaming at the mouth
- Hunched body position
- Raised hackles (fur on the back of the neck)
- Bared teeth
- Licking the teeth or lips
- Showing the whites of the eyes
If you detect any of these warning signs, immediately remove your child from the dog’s presence. Give the dog plenty of room and time to relax. If a dog looks like it is about to attack, remain still and slowly back away from the animal. Do not run or scream. Tell your child to avoid eye contact. Try to get to a place where there is a barrier between your child and the dog. If possible, calmly ask someone near you for help.
Get Help After a Dog Bite Injury
If your child gets bitten by a dog despite your best efforts to avoid an animal attack in Vancouver, contact the Vancouver dog bite injury lawyers at NW Injury Law Center for a free consultation. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling dog and animal attack injury claims in Washington and Oregon. We can help you hold a pet owner responsible.