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Help Your Children Stay Safe Around Dogs

An 8-year-old girl and her 55-year-old grandfather are expected to recover from wounds they suffered in a dog attack at their home in the upstate New York town of Walkill on July 20, the Associated Press reported.

The man told authorities that the attack happened as the girl petted the pit bull while sitting on a bed with her grandparents. The dog suddenly bit the girl’s face and attacked her grandfather. The girl’s grandmother called police, who used a stun gun, a shield and a catch pole to restrain the dog, which died during the altercation.

Dogs bite nearly 4.5 million people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children make up half of the victims, and most of these kids are bitten on the face, primarily the lips, nose and cheeks.

About one in five dog bites requires medical attention, the CDC says. In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of disfiguring dog bites.

Many dogs are docile, fun-loving and eager to please their owner and others. They love to run and play with children and will live their entire lives without ever harming a human. But some dogs can become dangerous without warning.

Bites are becoming more common because dog ownership is growing and, many dog owners don’t know how to properly care for and train their pets.

Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for kids ages 5 to 9, according to the CDC. Overall, children are more likely than adults to need medical attention for dog bites.

Adults can take steps to keep their children safe from dogs by teaching them the correct way to interact with dogs and develop relationships with their own pets.

Here are some simple tips you can teach your children to help keep them safe around dogs:

  • Avoid dogs you don’t know. If you see a stray dog in your neighborhood wandering around loose and unsupervised, avoid it and leave the area. Consider alerting animal control.
  • If you see someone walking a dog, always ask permission before petting the animal. Never touch a dog without asking first, even if it is a dog you know.
  • Quietly walk way if a dog confronts you, and if the dog charges, adopt a defensive pose, hands low and eyes down. If a dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and protect their head and neck with your arms.
  • Never escalate a confrontation by yelling, running or making sudden movements toward the dog.
  • Don’t bother a dog when it goes to bed or to its crate. This is the dog’s space where it goes to be left alone.
  • Don’t disturb a dog when it is sleeping or eating or if it is a mother dog caring for puppies.
  • Never tease dogs by taking their toys, food or treats or by pulling their ears or tail or pretending to hit or kick them.
  • Don’t place your face close to a dog’s face.
  • Adults should never leave a baby or toddler alone with a dog.

If the unthinkable happens and a dog bites your child, call 911 if the bite is serious, or at the very least, take the child to a doctor. Some dog bites that seem minor may have caused serious injuries to muscle, bone, nerves and tendons beneath the surface. And your child may need antibiotics to ward off infection.

If your child is bitten, be sure to get the name and location of the dog’s owners, and find out if the dog is up to date on its vaccinations so you can pass along this information to the doctor.

Remember, while a dog is less likely to bite when it has been socialized to people, well-trained and cared for, any dog – a tiny Chihuahua, a large Rottweiler or any other breed – has the ability to bite and cause injuries.

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