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Injuries to children from dog bites can be devastating

Children, especially young children, tend not to have a healthy fear of, well, much of anything. For instance, they see a dog and want to play with it and pet it, and they often have no idea how dangerous dogs can be. Even the nicest dog can turn and bite when inadvertently provoked. When a dog does bite, the injuries to children can be devastating.

What children are most at risk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites occur approximately 4.5 million times each year. One out of every five of those bites will lead to an infection. If you have a child between the ages of five and nine, he or she has the highest risk for being bitten. Children's curiosity and trust could be at the heart of this age group's risk.

How can you prevent your child from being a victim?

It is possible to teach your child how to interact properly with a dog to reduce the risk of a dog bite. The following tips might help:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not make loud noises or panic.
  • Do not pet a dog without first letting it know you are there and letting it sniff you.
  • Do not run from a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • Do not let your young child play with a dog without supervision.
  • Do not encourage your dog to play aggressively.

Of course, even following these tips does not guarantee that your child will not be bitten. Both dogs and children can be unpredictable. Bites are not the only risks that come with a dog bite. Your child could contract a disease afterward, such as the following:

  • Rabies--which affects the brain of the victim and is often fatal
  • Pasteurella--which can be most serious in those with a compromised immune system
  • MRSA--which is a virulent staph infection that can be life-threatening if it gets into the bloodstream
  • Tetanus--which can cause paralysis 
  • Capnocytophaga--which can cause sickness in people with a weak immune system

After a dog bite, the possibility of contracting one of these, or another infection, is always there, so even minor dog bites need treatment.

What should you do if your child is bitten?

After your child has received medical attention, it might be a good idea to discuss the incident with an attorney. The owner of the dog has certain responsibilities under California law, and you might be able to receive compensation for the injuries suffered by your child, for medical care and any other damages that resulted from the dog bite.

Injuries to children from dog bites can have lifelong repercussions depending on their severity, and so you should explore the possibility of holding the responsible party or parties accountable.

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