What you’ll learn reading this article:
- There are over 90 million dogs in the United States, and Indiana ranked 24th in the United States in 2019 for dog bites against postal workers.
- Children are frequently victims of dog bites but can protect themselves when better educated.
- The most popular dog breed in Indiana is also one of the most likely to attack children.
While we typically consider them man’s best friend, dogs, by their very nature, can be dangerous and unpredictable.
For instance, the United States Postal Service releases the number of dog bite attacks that take place on postal workers each year, and 2019 saw 5,803 attacks. In the United States, Indiana ranks 24th for the number of dog bites against USPS workers.
Postal workers aren’t the only people being attacked by dogs. With over 90 million dogs in the United States as of 2018, the U.S. averages 4.7 million dog bites per year. Among the most vulnerable to dog bites are children.
Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center conducted a 2019 study on dog bites in children using data from as far back as 1970. The study found that, statistically, pit bulls are responsible for the highest percentage of bites in both frequency and severity. Pit bulls are followed closely by mixed breed dogs and German shepherds, which is the most popular dog breed in Indiana.
Ways to Prevent a Dog Bite
It is important to teach your child not to approach dogs without permission, and despite their friendly appearance and popularity in kids’ media, an unknown dog is especially unpredictable.
Here are some important tips for avoiding dog bites:
- Always get an owner’s permission to pet a dog.
- Never approach a dog from behind.
- Let a dog sniff your hand before petting it.
- Pay attention to and familiarize yourself with a dog’s body language.
- Do not steal food from a dog, take a toy from its mouth or tease it.
- Do not pet or take puppies from their mother.
- Do not surprise or bother a sleeping dog.
- Do not leave children unattended with dogs, even if the dog is chained or leashed.
- Do not run from a dog; instead, back away slowly.
- If you see a strange dog without an owner, report it immediately.
Steps to Take If Your Child Is Bitten
If your child is bitten by a dog, you should take the following steps to ensure their safety:
- Instruct them to curl into a ball and protect their head, neck and stomach.
- Use a strong, firm, deep voice, and tell the dog to GO HOME or NO.
- Call animal control or the police to report the dog bite.
- Treat any minor wounds by washing them and applying antiseptic.
- Apply pressure and seek medical treatment for deep wounds; call 911 if needed.
- Take photographs of the wounds and a photograph of the dog if you are able.
- If you know the dog’s owner, contact them and get the dog’s rabies vaccination information.
- Identify any witnesses, and get their contact information.
If it has been more than five years since your child had a tetanus shot, you will want to see a healthcare provider.
Even minor scratches and bites may become infected, and there is always a chance of a rabies infection, especially if the dog is unknown to you. These can result in serious medical conditions.
If you develop a rash, swelling or fever after a dog bite, seek medical attention right away.
For additional resources on dog bites and dog safety, please visit the following sources:
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- The Centers for Disease Control
- “Don’t Let Dogs Bite: How to Be Safe Around Dogs Coloring & Activity Book”
- The Family Dog
If your child has been bitten by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact an Indianapolis dog bite attorney as soon as possible to discuss your child’s rights.
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