Dog Bites and Children

Coconut and Our North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyers Give Puppy Safety Tips

Coconut Riddle wearing sunglasses

Everyone at Riddle and Brantley, LLC loves dogs, especially our very own Coconut. However, we know that dog bites sometimes happen, and we have represented many dog bite victims in the past. In our experience of handling these claims, our dog bite lawyers have noted that children appear to be bitten more frequently than adults. Aside from the fact that children are smaller than adults, children also do not appreciate the warning signs of aggressive behavior that some dogs exhibit before a bite. In our many years of handling dog bite cases we have learned a lot about dog bites and even found some possible ways to prevent them, especially in small children.

Coconut’s List of Factors That Contribute to Dog Bites:

  1. Age of the child. The age of the child can contribute to a bite. The younger the child, the more likely the child will want to play with the dog without appreciating the possible dangers. Small children like to pull the tails of dogs which can lead to a defensive bite. Coconut says if you pull his tail he might not realize that you are playing and he might just nip you. Be smart when allowing your very young children play with any dog, even Coconut. Parents or adults should always be there; children should never play with dogs alone.
  2. Type of dog. We all know that some dogs are just more aggressive in nature and mood than other dogs. Coconut says be aware of the types of dogs that do not like children, and avoid them if possible. Instead, find another dog to play with, like Coconut!
  3. Size of the dog. It is only common sense to know that the size of the dog playing with a child is important. The bigger the dog, the bigger the bite. Yet size alone is not determinative. Some very large dogs are great with kids, so just be smart when allowing your child to play with big dogs. Coconut says big dogs have big bites, and he should know! His best friend Roscoe is a big dog.
  4. Age of the dog. The age of the dog can also factor in determining whether he is a safe playmate for a child. When dogs get older, they can get cranky and sometimes mean and snippy. An older dog can be more inclined to bite for many reasons. Coconut has firsthand experience with an older dog that used to bite him. When she was young she played with Coconut. But when she got older she did not want to play, so she would bite.
  5. Activity with the dog. The activity you are doing with the dog can also play a role in tempting the dog to bite you. For example, if you are playing very roughly with the dog, the dog may play roughly too. The dog may nip you while playing or just plain bite you if you make him mad. Picking on dogs until you irritate them is not wise. Coconut does not like his tail pulled so we never do that with him when we play.
  6. Familiarity of the dog with the child. This point is very important. Do not let your child play with a dog that your child does not know unless the owner is present. Most of the dog bites that we have handled over the years were caused by dogs that had no familiarity with the victim. You are less likely to be bitten by a dog that knows you. If the dog is familiar with you then you know his normal behavior. This means you can easily determine if the dog is agitated, and take steps to prevent dog bites.
  7. Length of time the dog has been in the family. Some dogs bond with their owners or family right after birth and stay with one family for life. These dogs basically grow up with the kids. Coconut is this kind of dog and he says these dogs are the best for children. There is truth to this statement as a lot of these dogs protect the children and would never harm them. However, there is no blanket rule about this kind protection. Dogs have teeth and when they bite, serious injury can result.

Coconut’s Tips for Dog Bite Prevention:

  1. Know the dog before you allow your small child to play with him. If you are not familiar with the dog then find someone who is before you allow your child to play.
  2. Be wary of very large dogs. These animals can hurt children even when they are just playing. Big dogs have big bites and they can really cause a lot of injury to a child.
  3. Never ever allow your child to play with a dog when he is eating. Dogs naturally use their teeth when they eat and they can be provoked easily if they think you are trying to take their food.
  4. Do not ever let your child put his face next to the dog’s face or mouth unless you are certain the dog will not misinterpret the gestures. Coconut likes to give kisses in the face, but you need to be careful in allowing small kids to try to kiss dogs in the face. Not all dogs are as loving as Coconut.
  5. If the dog is on a chain, then leave him alone. The owner put the dog on the chain for a reason. Do not test your luck.
  6. Do not pet a dog that you do not know. Coconut understands how difficult this is because dogs are so cute. However, most of the dog bites cases we have handled involved dogs that the victim did not know.
  7. Do not pull the tail of a dog. This gesture can elicit a defensive bite or an angry bite. It can also hurt the dog and cause him not to like you. Never play too roughly with your dog because the rough play can trigger a bite. Additionally, the dog may learn to play rough all the time, and this can be dangerous to little kids who try to play with him.
  8. If a dog appears injured or sick, then leave him alone. However, if you know the dog, then try to get him to a vet.
  9. Do not ever try to provoke a dog to bite you. Doing so will eventually lead to a bite and will teach the dog behavior that is bad for him and for people.

Coconut Explains Who is Responsible for Dog Bites

Bad things happen when you do not use common sense around animals, even family pets. One of the worst dog bite cases that our Goldsboro dog bite lawyers have handled involved an accident that occurred several years ago in the home of a grandparent. The family was outside having a picnic and the kids were feeding some chicken to the pet dog. The little 4-year-old child wanted to feed the dog too, so she held out a piece of chicken. The dog got excited and snapped at the chicken in her hand, but missed and slashed her face instead. She suffered a severe laceration to the face which required some plastic surgery. We were successful in resolving this case for the child and her parents, but incidents like this should never happen. The dog is not to blame.

Coconut wants everyone to love their dogs and pet them daily, but he also encourages all of us to be smart and safe. If a dog has a history of multiple bites or becomes too aggressive, that dog may be euthanized. This is terrible for the owners and the dog. More importantly, an aggressive dog can inflict serious injury to children. Therefore, you should never assume that a dog is friendly and good with children. Always follow Coconut’s dog bite prevention tips and use your best judgement to keep everyone safe, human and canine alike.

Coconut Recommends Our North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyers

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, the attorneys at Riddle and Brantley may be able to help. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you about the incident and discuss your legal options. We have handled many dog bite cases over the past thirty years, so we know how to stand up for your rights, or the rights of your child.

You can talk to an experienced dog bite attorney about the mounting medical bills and what you should do to document your child's injury and scarring. You can also discuss how to get a medical opinion from a plastic surgeon, if necessary. We can help you recover expenses for medical care and compensation for the injury to your child including pain and suffering as well as permanent injury or scarring.

Our law firm has offices in Raleigh, Jacksonville and Kinston, but Coconut usually hangs out at our Goldsboro location! If you need assistance after a dog bite, contact us online or call one of our law offices to schedule your free initial consultation.