Most dog bite victims are children

Dog growling

Dog owners in Illinois often protest that their beloved pets would never cause harm to a person unprovoked, and especially not a child. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association warns that any dog can bite, and statistics show that children are victims more than 50 percent of the time.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns that half of all children will be victims of dog bites before they reach the age of twelve, and more than 400,000 children in the U.S. are treated for dog bites by medical professionals each year. It is this type of information that makes a Lake County dog bite lawyer concerned for younger children who are around dogs consistently.

Familiarity is not safety

According to the AVMA, there were approximately 70 million dogs living in homes in the U.S. during 2011. This many dogs create a ratio of one dog for every 4.5 people. A Lake County dog bite lawyer may be aware that when people have two dogs in the home, their chances of a dog bite increase by five times. Data from the World Animal Awareness Society show that when young children suffer from dog bites, they are typically engaged in everyday activities interacting with familiar dogs in their own homes or the homes of close relatives or friends.

A new report from the Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital showed that of the bites treated at Phoenix Children’s Hospital over a 74-month period, more than half of the dogs who bit children belonged to an immediate family member. At that hospital alone, 670 dog bite victims received treatment, and more than 60 percent of the injuries required surgery.

Trauma runs deep

The most common external injuries treated during the course of the Mayo Clinic study were lacerations, and these were frequently on the victim’s faces. Although these wounds are often traumatic and leave permanent scarring, medical experts indicate that most children suffer psychological and emotional trauma long after the physical pain has healed. According to an article in Contemporary Pediatrics, a medical journal for pediatricians, the trauma of dog attacks on children is similar to the experience an adult would have after a mauling by a bear. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a common outcome. Medical professionals recommend that parents of young dog bite victims seek psychiatric help soon after the event to help children overcome the fear and emotional damage that often occurs as a result of the attack.

Parents of dog bite victims want their children to fully recover, but often the high cost of medical bills can cause extreme financial hardship and reduce the child’s quality of life. In Illinois, the owner of a dog is responsible for the damages caused by an attack. A Lake County dog bite lawyer may be able to help parents receive the compensation entitled to them by law so that the young victim can achieve a full physical, psychological and emotional recovery.