In Hawaii, a family dog killed a two-month-old infant. Iokepa Liptak, 2 months-old, was sleeping on a bed in the family home. The infant’s mother had left the infant on the bed to get a glass of water. The dog was walking behind her. Then it was not behind her. The mother quickly went back to the bedroom to find the 75 lb. dog on the bed attacking the baby. Jennifer Archer, neighbor, heard the mother’s screams and called 911. The adults in the home were injured by the dog, trying to save the infant. The mother and the baby were taken emergently to the hospital. The baby died from his injuries. Police and the Hawaiian Humane Society removed the dog from the premise. News stories report that this dog had no attack history, but there are approximately three dogs that live at this house. Because the infant was initially attacked while unattended by the adults, police have classified the infant’s death as an unattended death. Officials are determining the fate of the dog.  

According to the Humane Society, every year approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States. That is almost 2% of the American population. Roughly 26 people are killed a year by dogs in the last decade. Approximately eighty percent of dog bites occur by an animal that is known to the victim and is usually a pet of the owner or neighbor. And most dog bites occur near the victim’s home. And over half the dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property. Children are three times more likely than adults to sustain serious injury from dog bites. Over half of the child victims sustain significant injury to the face. The Humane Society reports that over fifty percent of the bite victims are under the age of 13-years-old. One kennel reported that of the children killed by dogs (canine homicide), nearly 70% of the victims were under the age of ten-years-old, nearly 22% are under the age of one year and approximately 7% were sleeping infants. It is important to discern between dog bites and canine homicide. While Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for a large number of the canine homicides, all breeds and their owners are responsible for the high number of dog bites. You will recall the case of the Pomeranian dog that killed an infant while its owner was preparing a bottle in the other room. Even in communities where certain breeds are banned and there are low concentrations of “dangerous breeds” there is still the same frequency of dog bites in the population. Any dog can and will bite under certain circumstances.   

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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