Dog Bites

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer

Let the Keane Law Firm give you some facts about dog attacks, bites and children. 

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.   

There are some factors that contribute to the likelihood of being a victim or creating victims of dog bites or dog attacks. Dog owners and parents must consider all factors that contribute to aggressive behavior or pack mentality in dogs. These factors must be taken into consideration and should be avoided to prevent injuries to family, friends and children due to dog bites. The more factors that are present the greater the likelihood that a bite or attack may occur. Having two or more dogs unsupervised in a yard without the dog owner present is a significant risk factor for dog bites. The more dogs that are present the greater the risk for bites and attacks associated with pack behavior. Keeping a dog on a chain creates aggression and poor socialization in dogs. And statistically male dogs are more likely to bite. However dominant, poorly socialized or fearful female dogs will bite. Dogs that have not been neutered or spayed generally are more aggressive. And in the summer, the incidence of dog bites goes up because the opportunity for coming in contact with dogs goes up.

It is important to remember the greatest single cause of canine homicide and dog bites are irresponsible dog owners. Dog owners that do not take responsibly for properly training and supervising their dogs are the single greatest cause of dog bites and dog attacks.

The third week of May is Dog Bite Prevention Week. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the United States Postal Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) participate in a public health campaign to increase public awareness of dog bite prevalence and prevention.

The CDC has reported that male children, under the age of 14, were more likely than female children of the same age to sustain an injury from a dog bite. After the age of fourteen there was minimal difference in prevalence of dog bites sustained by males and females. Furthermore, statistics show that the younger the child the more likely that injury will be sustained to the head and neck.   

Tips to minimize the risk of your child from being bitten by a dog: 

  1. Teach your child to move slowly and speak softly around dogs. 
  2. Teach your child not to chase or tease dogs. 
  3. Teach your child that all dogs may bite.  
  4. Teach your child to wait to be introduced to the dog by the dog’s adult owner.   
  5. Teach your child to ask the dog owner’s permission to pet their dog first, before trying to pet the dog. 
  6. Teach your child to wait for a dog owner’s permission to pet the dog and then teach your child to let the dog sniff the child’s hand first, before petting the dog.  
  7. Teach your child to pet the animal gently after the dog sniffs his/her hand.  
  8. Teach your child to avoid petting a dog that cannot sit nicely.   
  9. Teach your child to never pet a dog while it is eating or sleeping.  
  10. Teach your child to never approach a dog that has puppies or is nursing puppies.   
  11. Teach your child to never pet a dog while it is playing with a toy. 
  12. Teach your child to never try to take a dog’s toy away from the dog. 
  13. Teach your child to never try to pet a dog that is in a car by reaching in the window. 
  14. Teach your child to never pet a dog by reaching through or over a fence if the dog is in the owner’s yard.  
  15. Teach your child to not play rough with dogs.  
  16. Teach your child to not approach an injured dog, but call an adult for help. 
  17. Teach your child to pay attention to a dog’s body language, or a dog’s growl. 
  18. Teach your child to remember that even angry dogs wag their tails before they bite their victim. 
  19. Teach your child to behave cautiously with dogs that they don’t know and are not accompanied by an owner or are running around the neighborhood with no leash.  
  20. Teach your child how to react properly to a strange stray dog that may approach while your child is outside.  
  21. If your child is outside and a stray dog approaches, teach your child to not run away, but to try backing away slowly. The dog will always be able to run faster than the child and therefore may chase the child and could attack as if it is hunting. 
  22. Teach your child to avoid direct eye contact with a stray dog and to stand still if the dog continues to approach the child.   
  23. Teach your child to turn with the dog, if the dog is circling around him/her. Never turn your back on a stray dog.  
  24. And if your child is playing on the ground when a stray dog approaches, instruct the child to lie still in a side lying position, like a fetal position, and place his/her hands over both ears and protect the face with both forearms. The dog will likely sniff and walk away if the child is still.   
  25. Teach your child to use his/her back pack, purse, coat or bike to protect him/herself if a dog attack cannot be avoided.  
  26. If a dog looks or acts aggressive with you, immediately put something between you and the dog, like a chair or bike.   
  27. Do not leave a small child in a room alone with a dog. 
  28. Teach your child not to put his/her face close to a dog.    

Experienced pet owners know how much responsibility and work are required to choose the appropriate dog to bring into the home and neighborhood where children are present. Dogs do not automatically know what behavior is expected from their owners. And many owners may not know how to properly raise or socialize a dog, or choose not to appropriately socialize a dog. There are dog owners that intentionally raise an animal that is not well socialized. That is why the incidence of dog bites is so prevalent. A majority of dog bite incidents occur because the dog owners did not fully appreciate the necessity for educating themselves to the proper methods of raising, socializing and supervising the dog. There is an abundance of written information available to assist people with their goal to being responsible dog owners.  

 

Dangerous dogs: 

A spokesman for the Westminister Kennel club, Tom Bradley is quoted as having said, “no one ever gets bitten at a dog show.” Dogs properly socialized will not be provoked easily, but the truth is that all dogs are capable of biting under any circumstances. However, some people with low-self esteem and a lack of education about dog training with the intention of intimidating other people will raise their dogs to be vicious, unstable and undisciplined. While all dogs are capable of biting and severely injuring their victims, it is the size of the jaw and musculature of the jaw that sets dogs apart. After all, it was a Labrador that caused a woman to be the first face transplant patient and it was a Pomeranian that responsible for killing an infant. The size of the dog and the size of the victim is a factor in dog attacks. The bottom line is that bigger muscular jaws translate into bigger bites and higher mortality rates, such as is the case with Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Great Danes, German Sheperds, etc…  

Pit Bulls:

It is an urban myth that Pit Bulls have jaws that “lock”. There is no such variation in the anatomy of any dog breed that can be attributed to “locking jaws”. However, a Pit Bull may feel like it locks its jaw when it bites due to the degree of pressure it delivers during a bite.  While some unreliable sources claim that Pit Bulls bite with the force of 1800 lbs/PSI; verifiable sources, such a study using a special bite sleeve with measuring device was done by Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic (Dangerous encounters: Bite force, 2005). Dr. Barr measured dog bites and he reported that Pit Bulls, and other breeds such as German Sheperds and Rottweilers, bite with an average pressure of 320 lbs/PSI. For the purpose of comparison, Dr. Barr reported that humans bite with an average strength of 120 lbs/PSI. Due to the popularity and prevalence of the Pit Bull in American households, the breed was responsible for a majority of the deadly dog attacks in the 1980s according to the American Veterinary Medical Society. And according to the CDC statistically, the Pit Bull is more likely than other dog breeds to attack or bite a second time after an initial incident. According to some sources, Pit Bulls seem to display less inhibition for attacking people that are much bigger than themselves which explains why just as many adults, as compared to children, are attacked by Pit Bulls. This is in contrast to the attack history of other breeds of dogs. The Pit Bull is disproportionately stronger in its bite due to the greater degree of muscular development around its jaw as compared to other dogs of the same size. While Pit Bull enthusiasts defend the breed against negative press accounts of attacks on people, statistics prove otherwise. Likely the statistics are negatively impacted due to the types of individuals that tend to raise Pit Bulls with inappropriate disciplinary styles. Because of these irresponsible dog owners, Pit Bulls often have a menacing presence in some communities and essentially become weapons similar to loaded guns in the hands of children and unstable adults.   Professor Robert Plum, retired from California State University of Chino, reports that 1 dog in 55 will bite someone seriously on an annual basis. Furthermore, his study reports that 1 in16 bites from Pit Bulls result in serious injury as compared to 1 in 295 bites from Dobermans and 1 in 156 German Sheperds.  

Rottweilers:

There have been an increasing number of attacks by Rottweilers in the last decade. This is because the breed has grown in popularity and to some degree replaced the Pit Bull in popularity since the 1990’s. Several decades ago there was a higher incidence of bites and attacks by other dog breeds because other dog breeds were more popular, such as German Sheperds and Pit Bulls. This has changed over the last decade. Due to the muscular size of Rottweilers, their attacks can be very deadly. With the average weight being 80 to 130 pounds, this breed requires a very experienced dog owner to manage it. And again, the statistics for Rottweilers reflect that there is likely going to be a second offense once the dog has bitten a first time. Like the Pit Bull, perhaps the statistics are negatively influenced due to the disciplinary style of individuals that own Rottweilers purely for home protection. Statistics also show that dog attacks occur more often against individuals that are not intruders on private property. The Rottweiler, like the Pit Bull, becomes a formidable weapon likely to hurt an innocent by-stander, most likely a child, in the hands of an irresponsible dog owner.

California rottweiler attack lawyers are available to help if you know a child who has been injured.  The Keane Law Firm has been recognized as having an AV rating - the highest legal ability and ethics rating available, and Christopher Keane has been rated as one of the leading plaintiff's lawyers and attorneys in America as a "tireless advocate for injured children".  Contact him today to see if he can help your child.  

With regard to the breed that is considered dangerous in any decade, like the Dobermans and German Sheperds of the ‘70s, the Pit Bulls of the ‘80s through to the ‘90s and the Rottweilers of the ‘90s to present, these two statistical values remain unchanged – the number of deaths by canine homicide and vicious attacks - remain fairly stable year to year, but one factor does change – and that is the dangerous breed of choice among those irresponsible dog owners that socialize dogs for home protection and intimidation. The bad owner-dog complex is usually the denominator in vicious dog attacks and canine homicides, regardless of which breed is most popular in a given time period.     

 

The Keane Law Firm and You 

The Keane Law Firm has the experience and resources to handle a variety of childhood injury cases.  While Attorney Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm specialize in cases from San Francisco and the State of California, they may also accept worthy cases from other states.  If your child or the child of somebody you know has been the victim of a serious injury, we can work with you hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.

No matter where your child’s injury occurred, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a no-cost evaluation of your case.  And remember, if you are a professional referring a case to us, 25% of our fee will be donated to the charity of your choice.  Contact Attorney Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm today, and we can help you seek justice for the injury done to your child.

California dog bite injury lawyers are available to help if you know a child who has been injured.  The Keane Law Firm has been recognized as having an AV rating - the highest legal ability and ethics rating available, and Christopher Keane has been rated as one of the leading plaintiff's lawyers and attorney in America as a "tireless advocate for injured children".  Contact him today to see if he can help your child. 

 

The Keane Law Firm
530 Jackson Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, California 94133
Phone: (415) 398-2777
Toll free: (888) 592-KIDS (5437)
Fax: (415) 520-2282
E-mail: [email protected]

     

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