Children are naturally inquisitive, and while many parents want to foster this characteristic, it also poses unique challenges when it comes to interacting with animals. According to NBC News, Illinois ranks second in the nation for the number of dog bite claims filed in 2013. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 400,000 children seek medical attention for dog bites each year.
A Chicago personal injury attorney knows that these troubling numbers indicate a growing problem in Illinois and across the nation. While not all dog bites of children are preventable, many can be avoided with additional care, education and attention.
Dog bites of children, by the numbers
The CDC survey found that children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most at risk for dog bite-related injuries, and that somewhere between 15 and 20 dog bites of American children prove fatal each year. The survey also found that that boys were far more likely to be bitten than girls, with 57 percent of all child dog bites that year affecting males.
Also troubling, according to NBC Chicago, are figures, which reports that 66 percent of all dog bites of children are of the head and neck.
Keeping children safe
A Chicago personal injury attorney knows that raising awareness and teaching children about canine behavior is the best way to minimize a child’s risk of becoming a bite victim. Children should not approach dogs who are playing, sleeping, eating or engaged with their puppies, because dogs are more prone to attack when frightened or surprised. Additionally, children should be instructed from an early age not to approach or attempt to pet unfamiliar dogs without first requesting permission from the owner. Even if the dog owner approves, the child should be taught to let the animal sniff his or her hand before petting, ideally, the dog’s shoulders or chest.
It is also important to train children not to approach dogs that are enclosed by a fence or in a car. Dogs often instinctively protect their space, which can lead to aggressive behavior and biting. Keeping children protected against dog bites from strange dogs is one thing, but doing so with a friend or neighbor’s dog can pose a unique set of problems. A Chicago personal injury attorney advises that parents ask that unfamiliar dogs be kept away from their children when they aren’t able to supervise. Teaching kids to recognize signs of canine aggression is also essential to helping them stay safe.
Sadly, not all dog bites are avoidable. Those who have experienced bites severe enough to warrant medical attention should consult an attorney.