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It was the first week of summer break and the world was our
oyster. Then, a neighbor's dog bit my my 6-year-old.
My son was scootering to the park in the middle of the road, when our
neighbor's dog—a 150-pound Malamute mix—charged him. My son, armed with only a
pink scooter and a helmet, turned his body to avoid the open mouth of the dog,
which was more three times bigger than him.
As he turned, the dog bit our son on the shoulder. I heard
him scream and ran outside. When I saw the gash in his back, I got him safely
home and went straight to the neighbor's house.
Here's what I learned:
1. Call the police
We did not call the police, because
we didn't want to get our neighbor in trouble, but that was a mistake. The
police need to know when a dog has a history of biting. They also, by most
county laws, need to quarantine the animal for 10 days to make sure he or she
does not exhibit signs of rabies.
2. Visit the doctor
We didn't do this either, but
wish we had. If a child goes to an ER with a dog bite, that case must be
reported to the police. It is an expensive option, depending on how your
insurance handles ER visits, but it takes away the responsibility of getting the
police involved. At the very least see your pediatrician if the bite has
penetrated the skin.
3. Ask for the dog to be removed from the
If the owner cannot contain the dog, chances are the dog will
bite again. Our owner has offered to hire a trainer to help with the dog's aggression but has not committed to moving the dog to a more appropriate owner, and we
cannot make him do so. Laws vary on this, but for our situation, chances are
the dog will live next door for a long time.
4. Show your kids that not all dogs bite
for us, we have a great family dog that our son loves, and we made sure to have
him spend time with a dog that is well-adjusted and patient with him.
While our son was a
victim of an unprovoked attack, every day children are bitten because they are "playing"
with dogs by getting in their faces or grabbing their tails. No matter how friendly
a dog is, it will always defend itself, and this kind of "fun" at the expense
of a dog's patience may result in a nip or full on bite.