Why Are Dog Bites More Dangerous for Children?Compared to adults, children are more vulnerable in many situations. When it comes to dog bites, they are also more exposed and the injuries can be more devastating. There are higher chances of infection, scarring, and disfigurement. Since children may not be aware of the dangers of animals, they can be fond of neighborhood and stray dogs and may not use caution when approaching them. As much as it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children safety, there are many instances where a negligent dog owner has led to an unnecessary dog bite accident.

With over 69 million households owning dogs and nearly 85 million dogs living in our nation’s households, it comes as no surprise that an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year – the majority being children. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many more dogs were being adopted, as families were encouraged to stay home with their children. With this increase in dog adoptions, there was also a startling increase in dog bites. Some hospitals were seeing nearly three times as many children from dog bite injuries compared to the years before the pandemic.

Why children are more susceptible to face, neck, and brain trauma from dog bites

Children are of smaller stature, so naturally, a dog that is going to attack will likely bite the child’s face, neck, and eyes. According to a 2022 analysis published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery:

The most common anatomic location for dog bite injuries overall was the head/face (62.1%)…. The majority of toddlers had facial injuries, whereas the majority of teenagers had upper extremity injuries. Fractures were diagnosed in 2.9% patients, with 51% in the head and neck region, 40% in the upper extremity, 5% in the lower extremity, and 3% in the trunk.

A dog with a larger bite radius can damage more of the face with one bite. This can lead not only to fractures of the eye sockets, cheekbones, or skull, but also to permanent eye damage. This can include damage to the tear duct system or to the eye itself, which can result in blindness. Children can also develop infections from the bite, which could potentially travel throughout the body.

A puncture wound to the head can also result in a traumatic brain injury, which can be fatal. Infants and babies may be at the greatest risk, as their skulls are still soft and not fully formed.

Children being children, they may not be aware of the dangers that a dog can bring on. According to a recent study produced by Children’s Health of Orange County, a third of all dog bites involve a family pet, so it’s not always some stray or strange animal causing these injuries. All dog owners should use extra care and ensure that their dogs are always out of the reach of children, especially if they are known to be aggressive.

What should you do if your child was bitten by a dog?

First aid actions include thoroughly washing the wound and slowing the bleeding with a cloth. Wrap the wound until you get your child over to their doctor’s office or the emergency room. It is vital to contact your child’s doctor immediately. Especially when it is not your dog, you may not be aware of its condition. It could be sick or have rabies, so your child should receive medical treatment right away. Even if a dog bite appears to be minor, just a small cut is enough for bacteria to go through. Do not assume that an unknown dog, or even your neighbor’s dog that you’ve known for years, cannot pass any kind of infection over to your child.

One grave type of bacteria that your child can acquire through a dog bite is Capnocytophaga. This bacterium naturally lives in the mouths of dogs. Children are at greater risk of fighting off this infection since they have weaker/underdeveloped immune systems. If this is not treated right away, it can lead to sepsis, kidney failure, gangrene, and even a heart attack.

Rabies can also be transmitted via a dog bite and is another medical emergency that requires treatment right away, though you may not actually see any symptoms for weeks or months. There is no room or time for indecisiveness. Once you start to see symptoms, death is ultimately the result. Only less than 20 cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been documented.

What should you do on the scene of the dog bite in Minot?

While there is no particular law regarding dog bites in North Dakota, the parents of a child injured by a dog bite can certainly seek damages if the dog’s owner was found to be negligent. The case of Sendelbach v. Grad was notable in the state. If the dog’s owner knows that their dog is likely to bite or cause injuries, they must exercise the caution necessary to prevent the dog from any anticipated biting. This case held that dog bite liability shall be based both on negligence and scienter, or the act of having done something knowingly. If a dog owner’s negligence resulted in injuries, the victim has up to six years to file a claim against them.

At the scene of the dog bite, ensure that you exchange critical contact information with the dog’s owner. Obtain the vaccination history and a photo of the dog. Gather information from any witnesses. Notify animal control and file a report with them. Finally, contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. With dog bites, everything moves quickly. Although you have six years to file the claim against the negligent party, a dog bite can cause serious infections, scarring, and permanent disfigurement on your child. A dog owner should cover these medical expenses if they were negligent enough to not be more cautious with their dog’s anticipated behavior.

Children are much more vulnerable than adults to many things, especially dog attacks. If you or your child were bitten by a dog, it’s important to contact an attorney right away. These bites leave room for infections and dangerous complications that can be very expensive to treat – with no guarantee that there will not be any scarring. At Larson Law Firm P.C., we will answer all your questions and help guide you along every step of the way. Call our office in Minot or submit our contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation. We also serve clients in Bismarck and Fargo.