Children are one of the most vulnerable populations for dog bites. Since children are smaller, faster, and more unpredictable than adults, they are more likely to aggravate or provoke dogs to attack. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that children are more likely to suffer a dog attack than adults. When these bites occur, they are much more severe. If a dog attacks your child, it is important to get him or her to safety, seek immediate medical attention, and hold the owner accountable according to the laws in your state.
When you or your child is near an aggressive dog, it is very important to move slowly. If your child runs, the dog may view him or her as prey and give chase. To protect your child, instruct him or her to face the dog, avoid eye contact, and slowly back away from the animal. This indicates to the dog that your child is not a threat and will hopefully deescalate the situation.
You should also move in between your child and the dog and stand as tall as possible. Dogs are less likely to attack a larger, more intimidating target than a smaller person. Keep your movements slow and instruct your child to do the same—fast or sudden movements can further provoke the dog.
Contrary to popular belief, making yourself large or aggressive is not a safe tactic when dealing with dog attacks. While these strategies may work with other animals, such as wild cats, loud, intimidating, or aggressive movements can further provoke a dog.
To avoid further violence, speak to the dog in a calm, assuring tone. Stand tall and confident, and always move slowly. This may trigger less aggressive behaviors in the dog and trick the animal into standing down.
If the dog attacks, as soon as you and your child are safe, call 911 and request emergency medical services to the scene. You can also take your child immediately to the emergency room. However, calling 911 will create a police report, which you could use in a future claim against the dog’s owner. When your child receives treatment, save all records related to his or her injuries and medical care.
If your child has open wounds, applying first aid can reduce his or her risk of infection. Wash the wounds with soap and warm water, apply an antibacterial ointment, and wrap the wound in a clean bandage. Remember that first aid is not a substitute for professional medical care—always go to the hospital after a dog attack.
You may have the right to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner for your child’s injuries. However, you will need to preserve and document as much physical evidence as possible. Take photographs of your child’s injuries, the area around the attack, and any clothing you or your child wore at the time of the bite. You should also identify the dog and his or her owner as soon as possible.
After your child receives medical care, contact a Portland dog bite lawyer to discuss your legal options. Since Oregon is a strict liability state for dog bites, you can file a lawsuit against the owner for any financial losses that may accumulate due to your child’s injuries. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your family’s optimal path to recovery.