Connecticut Parents: Tips for Your Children to Avoid Dog Bites

As a parent, one of the most terrifying prospects is being unable to prevent your child from being injured or harmed. Despite parents' best efforts, though, some incidents occur too quickly for them to be able to step in to protect their children. Dog bites and attacks, which occur with some amount of regularity in the U.S., are one example of this type of incident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.7 million people are victims of  dog bites each year in the U.S. Consequently, it is wise for parents to discuss safety tips with their children in an effort to avoid these dangerous attacks.

Of course, the best option is to remain with babies and younger children at all times when they are around dogs. It is particularly important for children to be supervised when they are around animals that are sleeping, feeding or caring for their young.

When a child sees a dog with which he or she is unfamiliar, it is best for the child to avoid contact with the pet. In such situations, it is possible that the dog has aggressive tendencies or has not been around children frequently. Without information regarding the dog's history, the dog's reaction to a child's approach is unpredictable. It is possible the pet would view the child's contact and interaction as a threat.

Once a child has approached a dog, the youngster should keep his or her face away from the animal. The dog is less likely to perceive the child as a threat if eye contact is not made. In addition, children should be told to handle pets gently. Parents should teach their children not to pull a dog's hair or tail and not to touch the dog's toys.

At times, a dog will initiate contact with a child. When the child does not know the dog, pediatricians suggest teaching the youth to "act like a tree or act like a log." In other words, the child should stay still and refrain from making loud noises or eye contact. If the animal becomes aggressive and the child is knocked over, he or she must protect his or her face and neck by curling into a ball on the ground. While the dog might still bite, the severity of the injuries can be diminished. This tip is especially important considering the CDC's report that two-thirds of dog bite injuries to children aged four and under are to the head and neck.

According to the CDC, around 800,000 people require medical care because of dog bites every year. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 have the highest injury rate due to dog bites. In addition, boys are more likely to be injured by a dog bite than girls. Of the approximately 360,000 Americans that must receive emergency care due to dog bites, approximately 16 die as a result of their injuries each year.

Connecticut Dog Owners Are Liable

Under Connecticut law, dog owners are liable for harm caused by their pets, whether the damage was done to the person or his or her property. An exception exists, however, when the person who was injured took certain action before the incident occurred. Dog owners may not be liable when the injured party was:

  • Trespassing on private property
  • Teasing the dog
  • Abusing the dog
  • Tormenting the dog

If the injured party is under seven years old, though, there is a legal presumption that the youth was not committing one of those actions. In order for the dog owner to escape liability in such situations, he or she has the burden of proving the child was acting in such a way.

If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite in Connecticut, you may be entitled to damages due to the harm caused. A skilled personal injury attorney can assess your case and advocate on your behalf to ensure just compensation is received.