As a parent, you always try to protect your children from danger, but you cannot supervise them 24/7 and sometimes things get out of your control. Because they are faster, smaller and more excitable than you, they are also more vulnerable to dog attacks. Not all dogs are aggressive, but it’s important to teach your children how to behave around strange dogs, even if they seem friendly.
They should act the same way they do when they meet a stranger, they should keep a distance from people and animals they don’t know. However, even if you tell them to stay away from strange dogs, and they listen to your advice, accidents can happen, and you should know what to do. No matter what, remember that it’s not your child’s fault, and you need to support them to overcome the physical and emotional trauma.
Here are the steps you need to follow.
You should call the police
You shouldn’t have second thoughts; you should immediately call the police and report that a dog bit your child. The authorities will come and try to gather information about the accident. They know that you or your children are not at fault because it’s expected dog owners to control their pets, so the fault lies entirely on them. As long as your child wasn’t violent with the dog or they didn’t antagonise the pet, the fault lies on the dog owner.
You and your child should answer all the questions the police officers address, and you shouldn’t hide any piece of information. They’ll use every detail you provide to track the pet owner if they are not present, and check if they have insurance.
Seek medical help
Even if the wound looks superficial, always seek medical attention for a dog bite. Even less severe wounds should be managed immediately. Visit the doctor within eight hours of the accident to administer treatment and to assess the severity of the injury. 50% of dog bites lead to infections when left untreated because their teeth introduce bacteria in the child’s tissue. An unvaccinated dog can also carry and transmit dangerous diseases like rabies, and the only way to prevent this scenario is to seek medical help immediately.
When a child suffers from diabetes or an immune system disease, they have a higher risk to get infected and it’s crucial for the parent to take them to a doctor.
If you cannot take your child immediately to the doctor you should clean, disinfect and apply an antibiotic gel on the wound to prevent infections. For a deep wound it’s recommended to allow it to bleed for a couple of minutes because the blood can get some bacteria out of your child’s tissue. Use a clean cloth to apply pressure on the wound and to stop the bleed. Then clean it with water and mild soap. Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide are useful products to disinfect the wound. Keep the injury elevated when the child has a deep gash and avoid bandaging it until a doctor sees it.
Take photos of the scene
If your partner can provide first aid to your child, or after you do it, you should take pictures of the dog if still present, the child’s wounds, and the location where it attacked your kid. If the dog is still aggressive you should take a short video because it will help the authorities understand its behaviour. When the dog shows signs of aggression without someone provoking it or if it’s an aggressive breed the claim is easier.
Get in touch with witnesses
If other people saw the accident you should talk with them to find out more about the dog and its owner. Even if you saw the accident, it’s always helpful to have witnesses. Sometimes, pet owners try to state that the child provoked the dog and it reacted to their behaviour so witnesses can tell the authorities exactly what happened. Sometimes, when the dog has a pattern of aggressive behaviour animal control can assess the situation to decide if they should take any action.
Take legal action
The area where you live may have special laws surrounding dog bites so you should hire a specialist to help you understand the complexities of the case. They have the best interest in this case and will recommend you what legal action to take.
Dog bites can be serious injuries to a kid even if they look like small scrapes, but sometimes the doctors neglect to treat less severe injuries. If you think one of the doctors who treated your child neglected to provide the right care you should hire personal injury solicitors to provide legal advice. When a strange dog bites your child the doctors should take all precautions to prevent infections, so ensure they do it.
You should hire an expert to support you during the process because sometimes pet owners are defensive about their dogs. You shouldn’t try to approach them in person, but ask your legal representative to do it. If there is no owner near the dog you should call animal control because an aggressive dog should not roam streets free. You can help to prevent other accidents by calling animal control to find it. An injury solicitor can help you understand what steps to follow not only if the doctor doesn’t carefully treat the children, but also if the dog owner refuses to pay the medical bills.
How to prevent dog bites
It’s always recommended to teach your children what to do if they are near an aggressive dog. They should make no frantic or sudden moves, and to curl into a ball position if the dog tries to bite them. This way they protect their face and vital organs. Also, they should avoid eye contact with the dog and try to stay calm if it tries to sniff them because sometimes dogs bark until they understand the child isn’t a danger for them.
These are some recommendations you can follow if you find yourself in this situation, and the conclusion is that you should always get professional help to deal with it.