For the many California residents who own dogs or who have had a dog in the past, it is hard to imagine the loveable family pet causing harm to you or others. Still, each year many faithful companions accidentally bite and injure millions of people, causing serious injuries that can sometimes lead to permanent scarring.
One of the groups most vulnerable to a dog attack are children. In fact, 60 percent of the 4.5 million dog bites each year happen to children under the age of 15.
While children are often not able to read dog behavior very well and often are unable to tell when a dog is feeling threatened or scared, adults can do a lot to keep children safe around dogs. For example, teaching children the simple step of asking permission from an owner before approaching a dog can help prevent an injury.
While a child on the street is usually not intentionally provoking a dog, they do need to understand that not all dogs are friendly or like being approached by strangers. An owner will often know if their dog is comfortable with children or not, and adults who are supervising this child can look to the dog for cues that it is happy or scared, such as the position of its tail.
In any event, it is always the responsibility of dog owners to make sure that they keep their dogs safe and the public safe. Dog owners who do not take steps to make sure that their dog is under control will ultimately be responsible for harm that the dog causes to children or adults.
Source: New York Times, "What I Learned (Too Late) About Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs," Hope Reeves, June 6, 2013.