We were not the only ones under a lot of stress during the pandemic. Our canine four-legged friends have been on the edge lately as well, and this has led to a nearly three-fold increase in dog bites this spring from a year prior, and children have been most at risk.
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Number of Dog Bites Soar
According to recent research by scientists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the number of emergency room visits related to a dog attacks has nearly tripled during the pandemic. Study authors deemed the findings “startling.”
Causes are multiple, with prolonged stress reigning supreme. What’s more, with 40% cases of the total involving children, it means that little ones are the most likely to fall victims to a dog attack.
The findings of the study have been confirmed by other medics and dog injury attorneys as well. Lawyers across the country say that the number of phone calls from dog bite victims has skyrocketed in recent months. People have been under a lot of stress and so did their pets.
Plus, nationwide shelter-in-place orders have only added fuel to the fire, leading to more anxious dog owners and dogs; and an anxious dog will snap. Not surprisingly, most attacks involving small children happened within families or closely-knit groups of neighbors.
Possible causes for the surge in dog bite numbers during the pandemic include:
- Increased interaction between children and family dogs paired with burned-out parents no longer being able to focus on supervising the little ones when they are around a dog (increased child exposure has been always linked to higher levels of dog stress, especially in the spring and summer)
- Dogs can mirror their owners’ stress and experience it just like us humans do, and there has been a lot of stress going on during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Careless adults no longer being able to focus on keeping an eye on their dogs and children. With parents being forced to live with their children 24/7 during this year’s national health crisis, the caregivers’ level of vigilance has dropped to abysmal lows, which led to more dog-related incidents than usual.
Children Are Most at Risk for Dog Bites
Children aged 5-9 have the highest risk of being bitten by a dog. Also, they are more likely to suffer from greater severity of injuries. Babies and toddlers are most at risk of bites to the head and neck.
Every year, the nation’s emergency rooms see around 340,000 dog-related visits. Of the dog bite victims, a whopping 40% are children. Most dog bites are caused by a dog the child is familiar with, like the family’s pet or a neighbor’s dog.
Children have the highest dog bite risk because they are more likely to engage in things that anger a dog or make the dog anxious. They are more likely to pet the dog when it is eating, caring for its pups, or sleeping. Children are also more likely to run from dogs or provoke them.
Experts urge parents and caregivers to always keep an eye on a small child and a dog. The history of the dog is of little importance as many dogs involved fatal attacks were at their first offense. Dogs are the most likely to attack when you startle them, make them anxious, stress them out, or when you are perceived as a risk to their property (food, toys, owner’s affection).
Some dogs even attack when they’re excited. Fido is a great source of comfort in rabid times, but they are also highly unpredictable.
Bitten by a Dog: What’s Next?
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, you need to get pro-active. Take all the necessary steps to ensure that the owner of dog bites is properly held accountable and that the aggressive dog has zero chances of biting other people.
After a dog attack:
- Identify the owner
- Ask him or her if the dog’s shots are up to date
- Seek medical attention
- Gather phone numbers of witnesses
- Report the dog attack to local authorities
- Photograph your injuries or damage to property
- Contact a dog bite lawyer.
Why a dog bite lawyer? In the U.S., there are more than a dozen of so-called one-bite states and many more mixed dog bite statute states where a dog owner could get away with a dog attack if it’s their pooch’s first bite. An experienced dog bite attorney could easily turn the tide against irresponsible dog owners and help you get full compensation for your pain and suffering.