Every year, aggressive dogs bite over 500,000 Americans and are responsible for about 12 deaths. Dog bites can cause serious, life-changing injuries such as crushed bones, facial scarring, internal injuries and nerve damage. They may cause permanent disability. They may also cause long-lasting emotional trauma. The majority of dog bite victims are small children.
In Kansas and Missouri a dog bite owner must protect the public from injury by the dog. This means, an owner of a dog is responsible if someone is bitten, even if the dog has never bitten before. Many cities have additional dog bite laws. Kansas City allows criminal charges to be filed against the owners of dangerous dogs.
Dogs attack for many reasons. Some breeds such as pit bulls are bred to be aggressive and are dangerous by nature. Other dogs are trained to be aggressive. The owners of these dogs should make sure they are properly secured so they do not pose a threat to others.
However, even normally gentle dogs may attack on occasion. Conditions that may lead to an injury-producing dog attack include the following:
• The dog is injured or sick and over reacts.
• The dog becomes territorial and feels it needs to defend its space particularly from a small child.
• The dog is afraid and attacks in self-defense.
• The dog perceives body language such as direct eye contact or close proximity as threatening.
By following a few safety tips, parents can help their children avoid dog attacks.
• Never run from a dog that is running at you. A dog will either think the victim is playing and continue chase him or it will chase him thinking he is getting away. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase prey. Running brings out this instinct. Instead, try moving towards the dog. This may confuse the dog and stop an attack.
• Don’t look at any strange dog in the face or eyes directly. Many dogs take this as a challenge.
• Don’t let small children play unsupervised around a dog – even a docile pet. If the child pesters the dog too much, the dog may snap.
• Don’t allow children to pick up or play with food, dishes, toys or other objects that belong to a dog they do not know well. Dogs are territorial and may perceive this as a threat.
• If a dog plans to attack, keep arms free and in front of you. Bites to the arm are less dangerous than being knocked to the ground.
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