One of the hardest stories to read or hear about on the news is when there is a report about young child that is injured or even killed by a dog. Last year in Fulton county a 2 year old child was killed by a family pet. According to the report, the mother of the child went to the bathroom and returned to find the child dead. The dog, a pit bull breed, had been owned by the family for 8 years. Unfortunately today there is yet another report of a deadly attack by a pit bull breed involving another young child. This time in Dayton, Ohio a pit bull attacked and killed a 7 month old baby on Sunday, July 20th. The infant was being kept by the infant’s step grandfather, who owned the dog.
A 2011 study by Dr. Karen Becker listed some disturbing statistics. For instance:
- CDC estimates that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year
- most fatal dog bites are to children
- fatal infant dog bites most often involve a sleeping baby
- over 75% percent of dogs that bite are owned by the child’s family or friend
These incidents are difficult to prevent because many dog owners only know them as loving and affectionate members of the family. The great number of households with canines never have so much as a scrape to report. Canine-related maulings and fatalities of children are rare. Regardless, when they happen it grabs all of our attention and forces us to ask questions.
There are several studies on preparing a home in order to prevent dog bites of young children. The first suggestion is to avoid leaving young children, (i.e., infants and toddlers), alone with the dog. Secondly, prevent the child from climbing on or jumping on the dog. Thirdly, make sure that the dog knows basic obedience. It is important that the dog understands when it is doing something that you don’t approve of. Regardless of the breed of dog a degree of caution needs to be exercised when children and dogs are in a residence.