Young toddlers wandering away unattended continues to be a common theme among dog bite-related fatalities. Last year, of the 33 dog bite fatalities, 13 of them involved a toddler aged 1-5 that was attacked by a dog – in 9 of those cases, the child was left unsupervised with the dogs (by the way, there were 9 different breeds of dogs involved in these 13 attacks – sorry, bsl folks, you can’t blame it on the pitbull here).
What I find the most disturbing is that these bite cases involve a child less than 6 years old being alone. What kind of parents are these that they allow their toddler to be alone? When is this ever okay? The television is not a babysitter, and even if you don’t have a pet (or your pet is amazingly trained) your child does not understand dog etiquette yet. Too many times I read these reports and learn the toddler fell onto the dog and the dog reacted with a nip (which can cause a lot of damage in a little one), or the toddler wandered into the neighbor’s yard and grabbed at a leashed-up dog (dogs on a leash are much more likely to show aggression because they know they are unable to fully protect themselves).
Education is key here. You child should learn as soon as possible to never pet a dog without the owner’s permission. The owner is not there? Then stay away from the animal. And, please, don’t leave your child at this age alone. Ever. There are too many tragic things that can happen, and not just with an animal. But when a child wanders off and falls on a dog, or grabs at it, or pulls its tail and the dog reacts with a nip – it is doubly tragic because not only is the child hurt (or worse), but the animal will most likely be ordered put to death. These dogs are rarely aggressive, they were just reacting naturally to being mistreated – remember, companion animals are domesticated, but they are still animals and their instincts are the same.
The fact here is simple: If we never allow children to be unsupervised with dogs (or any animal for that matter), we will easily avoid these tragic results.
**Image from Flickr.com