According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under age 9 are at the greatest risk for suffering dog bites, and each year, thousands are hospitalized with serious injuries. Sadly, some attacks are even fatal. As parents, we try to keep an eye on our kids, socialize our pets, and minimize contact with potentially aggressive dogs, but there are times when we just can’t protect our children. It’s a harsh reality for any parent to face, but it’s unavoidable.
One Recent Example – Dog Bite at Local Elementary School
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported on a dog bite at an area elementary school. According to the report, an unnamed fifth grader was bitten and injured at Pinewood Elementary School, just before class began. It’s not certain whether or not the dog was a stray, and it doesn’t appear that the boy has suffered any life-threatening injuries, but the attack prompted the school to cancel morning recess and place the campus on a partial lockdown. The young victim is expected to be okay, and he later noted that most of his injuries resulted from scratches from the dog’s claws, but as you can imagine, the event startled many parents who have children at the school.
Although the incident was well handled by the school, and the dog was captured by local officials, the incident raises some very important questions. Most notably, how can we keep our children from harm when we aren’t around? After all, we can’t protect our children 24 hours a day, as much as we would like to. So the only option we have is to educate our kids and give them a solid foundation, even at a very young age, so that they understand how to manage these types of situations.
Tips for Parents
Start educating your children as early as possible. Explain the importance of avoiding strange dogs, no matter how “cute” or docile the animal may seem. Show them how to spot signs of possible aggression (nervousness, tenseness, growling, pinning of the ears, retreating…), and instruct them on the fundamentals, such as avoiding direct eye contact, and moving away slowly. By giving our kids the foothold they need, we can give them the best chance to avoid becoming statistics.