Preventing Dog Bites to Children

We often post about personal injuries sustained from automobile accidents throughout the state of Georgia. At Jones & Swanson, we represent more than just auto crash victims. An additional area of specialization for Attorneys Andrew Jones and Chase Swanson is that of animal and dog attacks. Dog bites are common throughout the United States, as the CDC reports that approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten annually by dogs. In an article released by State Farm last month, the state of Georgia ranked at number nine amongst states recording the highest number of claims that were paid. Across the United States, State Farm paid out $489 million in dog bite claims. The state of Georgia's total disbursement accounted for 22 percent of this number.

Just this year, two deaths were reported due to dog bites. In April, an infant was killed by a family pet in College Park, Georgia. Prior to that, another infant was killed by the family's seven dogs in Ellabell, Georgia. These attacks, as well as many others, are devastating to friends and family members. Unfortunately, dog attacks are the ninth-leading source of nonfatal accidental injury to kids between the ages of five and nine, as reported by Prevent the Bite nonprofit group. As a whole, State Farm reports paying for 3,670 dog attack claims in 2012. As of May 2013, 37 dog bites had been reported in the state of Georgia.

How to Teach Children to Prevent Dog Attacks

Unfortunately, most dog attacks happen to children. It is important to educate your children about ways to prevent dog bites and attacks. Below are a few helpful tips on how to teach your children about avoiding attacks by dogs:

  • Keep it simple. Discuss animals in general, along with how we should relate to them and the role they play in families.
  • Do not approach unfamiliar dogs, no matter what the circumstance.
  • If a dog is with its owner, do not pet the dog until you've first asked permission from the owner to do so. Dogs are often scared of unfamiliar humans, and their owners usually know this.
  • If a child is confronted with a violent dog, make sure they understand that walking away quietly is the best prevention method. If a dog begins chasing them, they should remain very still and take a defensive position. The best method of explanation for young children is to tell them to be a "tree" by standing quietly with their hands clasped in front of themselves. They should look at their feet so that their heads are in a downward position.
  • If a child is knocked to the ground by a dog, they should be taught to cover the neck and head with their arms. Curling into a ball is usually the best method to keep yourself as safe as possible.
  • Children should not bother dogs once they've gone into their crate or to bed. This is the dog's safe space where they can relax without being bothered.
  • Children should be taught to never tease dogs with their food, treats, or toys. Hitting or pulling on a dog's tail or ears is also not suggested.

These are just a few tips we've assembled so that you can keep your children safe around dogs. It is unfortunate that "man's best friend" often turns on children. These attacks often leave victims with serious injuries and psychological damage. The state of Georgia enforces laws concerning the accountability placed on owners of dogs that attack people. These laws are very complex, so if you or someone you know has been injured by another person's dog, contact our firm today to determine if you have a personal injury dog bite claim. We specialize in representing victims of Marietta dog bites, so contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.