Is there any way to protect children from dog bite injuries?

woman teasing aggressive dog held by ownerHundreds of thousands of children are sent to emergency rooms every year as a result of dog-related injuries, making dog attacks the second-most common cause of child ER visits. While children will always be more likely to suffer dog bites than adults, there are many actions dog owners and parents can take to reduce the risk of bite injuries.

Steps Owners Can Take to Prevent Dog Attacks

Under Tennessee dog bite laws, a dog owner has a duty to keep a dog under reasonable control to prevent injuries to the public. If an owner violates these duties and the dog attacks, the owner may be liable for the costs of medical bills, reconstructive surgeries, trauma counseling, and other damages suffered by a child and his family.

Dog owners can avoid being sued by doing everything they can to minimize accidents, including:

  • Supervision. More than half of dog bite injuries occur in homes with animals that are familiar to the child. Owners should never let small children play with a dog unsupervised, even if the dog has never acted aggressively before.
  • Training. Dogs should have a minimal level of training, such as responding to commands like “stop,” “leave it,” or a simple “no.” Dogs should never be trained or encouraged to fight or bite.
  • Restraint. Dogs should be confined to their own yards by secure fences or tie-outs, and should always be on leashes while in public.

How Parents Can Protect Children From Dog Bite Injuries

A playful child may yell at, run to, or grab for a dog, causing the animal to panic and bite on instinct. Teaching children how to interact with dogs can go a long way toward preventing injury, especially if the child knows:

  • Don’t provoke them. Even a restrained dog can be dangerous, and taunting or tormenting a dog can cause a violent reaction.
  • Always ask before petting. Some dogs react well to contact with strangers, while others (such as rescues or service dogs) are best left alone. Make sure your child knows to ask permission before petting someone else’s dog, and to allow the dog to sniff them first.
  • Beware of puppies. Dogs have an instinct to protect their young. A dog who is caring for puppies may be more aggressive than others.
  • Don’t sneak up on them. Dogs don’t like surprises, and may bite out of fear if they are suddenly disturbed while sleeping or eating.
  • Avoid unleashed dogs. If you see an unfamiliar dog roaming freely with no sign of an owner, let an adult know immediately.
  • Don’t run! If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, don’t try to run away—the dog may see you as prey. Instead, stand completely still and say “No” in a loud voice. If the dog stops approaching, take a few steps backward with your eyes on the dog, gradually increasing the distance between you.
  • Curl up. If a dog attacks or knocks you over, curl into a ball with your head tucked in with your hands covering your ears and neck.

If your child was harmed in a dog bite incident, you should speak with an attorney immediately to protect your child’s future. Our dog bite injury lawyers can advise you on your next steps at no cost to you, and we do not collect any payment from you until we secure a recovery. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up a free initial consultation.