Children and Dog Bites: Risk Factors for a Serious Attack

Boulton Law Group has investigated a number of dog bite cases that have involved children. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these incidents to result in permanent injury to the child or require a form of long-term care, such as ongoing surgery.

Some of the common remarks we see listed on Indiana dog bite reports include:

  • “It happened so quickly!”
  • “The dog has never bitten anyone before.”
  • “There were no signs that the dog was going to attack.”
  • “I only looked away for a second.”

In short, these statements from parents, defendants, and witnesses reinforce the lightning-fast speed and unpredictability associated with dog attacks on children.

Because children can be especially vulnerable to dog bites and suffer a range of traumatic injuries, including fatal wounds, we must better understand the risk factors and warning signs associated with these attacks.

Dog Bite Risk Factors to Children

Many times after a child has been bitten by a dog, the ensuing investigation or lawsuit will reveal one or more factors that contributed to the attack.

In many instances, we learn that the dog bite may have been prevented if the animal’s owner (or the child’s parent) had a better understanding of the potential risks.

Below, we take a look at 4 risk factors that can lead to the increased chances of a child being bitten or attacked by a dog:

1. Leaving a child unattended with a dog

Children who are left unattended, even for a moment, face the greatest risk of being bitten or fatally attacked by a dog.

The majority of pet owners are not experts in animal behavior. They simply assume that they “know” their dog and could never imagine them being a threat to a small child or baby. This type of faulty thinking is what leads an adult to assume a child will be ok while alone with a dog.

In fact, some of the most severe dog bite injuries to children occur when an adult leaves a room or simply looks away for an instant. Likewise, an adult may allow the child to wander away to another room, or play unattended in a yard that is occupied by a dog.

Because the adult “trusts” the dog, they assume that there is little risk of an attack. In reality, a child should NEVER be left in the presence of a dog without an adult nearby.

However, as we see with the next examples, adult supervision does not automatically eliminate all dog bites and attacks in children.

2. Not knowing which dog breeds are more likely to bite children

A recent dog bite study in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology reviewed data to determine which breeds were more likely to attack children based on injuries to the facial area, and bite severity by breed, size, and head structure.

To ensure there was an adequate amount of data, the researchers used 15-years’ worth of cases involving children who had suffered dog-related bites and injuries to their facial area.

Ultimately, the study identified a number of dogs and breed types that posed the greatest risk to children, as well as causing the most damage per bite, however, the following represents the top 10:

  • Pit bull
  • Mixed breeds
  • German Shepherd
  • Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Cocker
  • Retriever
  • Chow
  • Collie
  • Husky

It was also noted that the same risk applied to dogs with wide and short heads weighing between 66 and 100 pounds.

And while this study indicates which dogs are more likely to bite children, it should also be noted that any dog has the capacity to bite or attack a child. In other words, never assume that a small, fluffy dog cannot inflict damage.

3. Social media pictures and video

Some adults believe that their presence will deter a dog from attacking a child. As such, they may engage in risky behaviors that seem safe but could quickly lead to a devastating bite.

All of us have likely seen a Facebook or Instagram post featuring a small child or sleeping baby next to a dog. Even though the adult is present and focused on the dog and child, the potential for a quick strike is very much present.

Due to their territorial nature, a dog may feel threatened by a hobnobbing or posing child. This is especially true when the child places their face near the dog or the animal is asleep and/or tired. (A sleeping or tired dog should never be disturbed, bothered, or posed for pictures.)

Put simply, dogs do not care about “likes” and they should not be made to pose for pictures or video next to small children or babies.

4. Being unfamiliar with someone else’s dog

Whether it be a babysitter, friend, or family member, we recommend that you always be familiar with someone else’s dog ownership. This is especially true if you plan on leaving your child or baby in the care of someone else.

A number of dog attacks involving children happen at someone else’s home. The fact that the dog is unfamiliar with the child (and vice versa) puts the animal on high alert. As a result, if the child tries to play with the dog, or does something as simple as move too quickly, the animal may respond by biting.

Ultimately, when visiting or leaving your child with someone else, you should always ask if the dog will be properly secured while your child is on the premises.

Was Your Child Bitten or Attacked by a Dog?

The information above is not to be viewed as a complete listing of dog bite risk factors involving children. The truth is, a dog may bite a child for any number of reasons, some of which can be completely unpredictable.

However, if your child was bitten by a dog, you should be aware of your legal rights. These cases can present a number of liability and insurance hurdles, and having an Indianapolis dog bite attorney on your side helps to ensure your child’s best interests are looked after.

Boulton Law Group is a family-friendly firm that focuses exclusively on Indiana personal injury matters and offers all Hoosiers a Zero Fee Guarantee. This promise helps to ensure every parent has equal access to award-winning legal representation for their child’s dog bite case.

To speak to attorney Boulton about your child’s dog bite case, call 317-350-2680.

If you prefer to write to us with your story, you may use our confidential contact form. Attorney Boulton personally reviews all of the firm’s website contacts.

We look forward to hearing your story and learning how we can help you!

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