Pit bull dog bites have been responsible for 25 deaths in California over the past seven years and in fact, the Golden State is one of the top five states for dog bites in the U.S., with three deaths in 2020, nine deaths in 2019, three in 2018, two in 2017, and six in 2016. Unfortunately, across the U.S., more than half of dog bite victims are children. Why is this and what can be done to keep kids safe?
Lack of Understanding
The main reason why kids are bitten by dogs more often than adults is because children don’t understand that dogs can be dangerous. They think that all dogs are friendly and lovable, especially since they usually look that way. Kids don’t always understand that looks can be deceiving, especially if a dog is nervous around people they don’t know or are surprised by someone coming up to touch them.
To prevent this lack of understanding from leading to a dog bite, parents must take the time to educate their children about petting dogs they know. Strangers should always ask the dog’s owner if they can pet their dog before approaching the animal. And, if an owner says no, that means no. They know the dog better than anyone and can tell if it is getting agitated or if it just doesn’t like other people.
Children should also be aware that dogs don’t like to be surprised because it scares them. When they are scared, they are more likely to bite. Teach your kids to never sneak up behind a dog or to make sudden moves around one, even one they’re familiar with, especially if it’s asleep or eating.
Dog bites to kids are usually more severe because they are smaller than adults and often not strong enough to push the dog away or escape its jaws. But, their small stature actually also plays a factor in why they’re bitten more often as well. Dogs are more likely to attack people and animals that are their own size or smaller. This is a way to demonstrate their domination and unfortunately, kids are often just the right size to be attacked, especially by larger dogs.
There isn’t much you can do to combat the size of your child when it comes to protecting them against dog bites, but you can teach your child not to approach any dog without an adult’s permission. It’s also a good idea to have an adult with them when they pet a dog, particularly if it’s a dog they don’t know. This is because the dog will often be submissive to the adult when they might be aggressive with a child. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that the dog does bite the child, the adult can get the dog away from them more quickly than if the child is on their own.
It’s a sad fact that children account for 51% of all dog bites in the U.S. so it’s important to teach all kids proper behavior around dogs. This will help minimize the danger dogs present to young people and keep the dogs safe as well.