Imagine you take your small child to a friend's house on the weekend. Everyone loves your friend's Chihuahua because of its cute and grumpy attitude. Furthermore, everyone says that the Chihuahua is "all bark and no bite."
You might want to consider asking your friend to keep the dog away from your small child when you're not present. In fact, your best course of action is to: (1) demand that your friend keep the dog from making contact with your child, and (2) teach your child about dog safety. The risk of a serious attack and injuries is not something to play around with when it comes to children and dogs.
What to tell your children about dog attacks
Even though children make up a smaller percentage of society than adults, 50 percent of emergency room visits and hospitalizations following dog attacks involve child victims, nearly 400,000 annually. As such, if your child is old enough to understand the following tips, make sure that you teach them to him or her immediately:
- Don't approach an unfamiliar dog. Instead, keep a respectful distance. If you've never met the dog before, or you don't know the dog's owner, then it's an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run away from a dog and do not make noise or scream at a dog, even if it is approaching. Stay calm around dogs.
- Never play with any dog if adults are not present.
- Don't try to touch or disturb a dog that's involved in something like eating, chewing on a toy or taking care of puppies.
- If the owner gives you permission to pet an unknown dog, show it your hand gently and let it sniff you before trying to touch it.
Dog owners have a legal responsibility to prevent attacks
Dog owners are legally responsible for their animals. They must train them not to attack adults and children, and they must keep them restrained so that they don't attack. Following a dog attack, it's a sign that the dog owner has failed and/or neglected in his or her legal responsibilities in this regard. The dog owner in these circumstances will likely be financially liable to pay for the costs of medical care and other damages related to dog bite personal injuries.