Stories of dogs attacking infants and small children have been making the news all too frequently.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, a 3-week-old infant was left strapped in a bouncy seat while adults sat outside talking on the porch. An adult entered the home and found the baby with a severe head injury. One of the dogs had blood around its mouth. The baby received emergency surgery but succumbed to her injuries.
In Calvert County, Maryland, an 8-month-old baby was attacked by the family dog. The only way deputies were able to stop the attack was to shoot the dog. The baby had already passed away. The child was in the care of a family friend.
In Phoenix, Arizona, a 1-year-old boy was killed by the family dog. His grandmother was watching him and set him on the floor while she completed some chores. She opened the back door and the dog rushed inside and began attacking the boy.
All too often, people think that their sweet dog would never bite anyone, let alone a family member. Today’s dogs are treated like children and become spoiled members of the family. They are treated no different than a human, and they are trusted implicitly. This can lead to tragedy.
The truth is that any dog has the potential to bite under the right circumstances. Another truth is that some dogs, even the family dog, are not good with small children. A dog that was once docile and friendly with its adult owners may have a complete change of attitude when a newborn is introduced into the household.
Leaving a child and any pet together unsupervised is never a good idea. Leaving a child and the family dog alone together can result in disaster. There are millions of home that have a dog and an infant or small child where nothing goes wrong. It’s the cases we read about in the news that make supervision essential.
Supervising kids and pets takes work. It is an intentional act that needs to happen over and over before it becomes second nature. Here are four tips for ensuring that your child and the family dog are safe.
Supervision does not mean that the child and dog are within earshot. It means that an adult is physically present in the same room with the child and animal. If an adult cannot be present in such a way that they can keep their eyes on the interaction at all times, barriers must be put in place.
Have a plan in place for how you will handle distractions that occur while you are supervising the interaction. What will you do if someone comes to the door? If the phone rings? Have a crate set up and ready or a baby gate installed so you can safely separate the child from the dog while you deal with what you need to.
3. Eliminate Distractions
It can be difficult to supervise anyone, let alone a child and dog, without being distracted by something. Your eyes may stray to the television. You may check your phone. You may think everything is going well and you can finish that last chapter in your book.
Eliminate all distractions when you are supervising. This can be tough. Experts suggest limiting the interaction between a child and a dog to only a few minutes so that you can safely focus your full attention on the activity. You can supervise several short interactions throughout the day as you have time to do so.
The period of time that you are supervising your child and the dog is a great time to be proactive. If you notice the dog acting in a way you do not desire, correct it. If your child begins to pull the dog’s tail, stop it and teach your child how to pet the dog nicely. Teaching these behaviors now will make your life easier in the future.
Another thing that many experts suggest for parents is understanding canine body language. A typical dog will give several warning signals before it acts aggressively. In many cases of dog bites, the human involved completely missed these signals as they were being given. When you understand how to “read” a dog, you can often jump in and correct behaviors before any bite occurs.
Being bitten by a dog can be devastating. The emotional turmoil one experiences is typically heightened when that dog is the family pet and the person bitten is a small child. If you have been bitten by a dog in West Palm Beach due to someone’s negligence, you have legal rights to compensation. Call our team of experienced dog bite attorneys today for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of the bite or attack and advise you of your options for moving forward.