In May 2018, a three-month old baby was mauled to death by dogs in Los Angeles. The family owned a Rottweiler, a Labrador, and a terrier, but officials weren’t sure which dogs were responsible for the attack. The same month, an eight-month old baby girl died when her grandmother’s pit bull attacked her in Florida. The dog was three and the family had owned her since she was a puppy. In June, a German Shepard killed a five-month-old baby in Georgia.
Dogs Attacking Babies
Tragically, these stories are not that uncommon. Children are more likely to die from dog attacks than adults, and 10% of fatal attacks involve infants. Experts speculate that dogs tend to attack children than adults because of their small stature, and babies are often at the right height. In fact, the baby in Florida was on a bouncy chair on the floor.
Dogs are also more likely to bite children and infants in the face, while they target the hands or extremities of adults. American Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers have an average strength of 269 pounds of pressure when they bight down.
Treating Infant Dog Bites
Fortunately, most dog attacks are not fatal for infants, but they can cause puncture wounds, lacerations, and avulsions. Dogs also carry a lot of bacteria in their mouths, and their bites can lead to rabies, tetanus, or other infections.
If a baby gets bitten by a dog, you should rinse the wound with sterile or saline water. You should not try to close the wound on your own, because you risk trapping the infections. Instead, you should take the child to the hospital, where they can sanitize the area and administer stitches if necessary. In extreme cases, plastic surgery may also be required. If the baby is unvaccinated, he or she may need a tetanus shot, and if you’re not sure whether or not the dog has an up-to-date rabies vaccination, the baby will likely need that as well.
After a baby was attacked by the family pit bull in East Falmouth, Massachusetts, the child needed several operations. Due to intense trauma to her face and skull, she needed a tracheotomy, reconstructive jaw and facial surgery, and a replacement for the bridge of her nose. The dog was a family dog with no history of attacks, and to save the baby, the dad had to stab the dog.
Avoiding Dog Attacks on Babies
Although many attacks just seem to come out of nowhere, there are steps parents can take to protect their infants from dog attacks.
- Always supervise dogs and babies when they are together. Many of the above attacks happened when the caretakers left for just a few minutes.
- Never have a baby sleep on the floor or in a seat close to the floor when a dog is nearby.
- Be cautious of unfamiliar dogs. For instance, never wheel a stroller toward a strange dog.
- Don’t let crawling babies interrupt dogs when they are eating, nursing their young, or sleeping.
- Teach your child never to put their face at the dog’s level.
- As the child gets older, teach them how to act around dogs, but when practicing, make sure to use a well-trained dog on a leash.
What to Do If Your Baby Has Been Attacked
If your baby has been attacked by a dog, seek medical help as described above. If the dog was not yours, get the owner’s name and contact details, and find out if the dog is up to date on vaccinations. Also try to obtain contact details for any witnesses in the area.
Report the dog to the authorities as soon as possible. This step could save other people’s lives, and if you don’t put in a complaint quickly, you may run out of time. Also, make sure that you contact a dog bite attorney in Massachusetts. They can help you get the compensation you need and deserve after an attack.