At the beginning of the month, an Illinois man was killed in a dog attack just across the border in Iowa. The story made national news, as the man died saving his five-year-old daughter, who was already severely injured, from the vicious dog.
Tragic stories like this might be few and far between. However, Illinois is one of the states with the most dog attacks in the country. And several reports indicate children face the most risk of suffering an injury in a dog attack.
Young children still learning how to interact with dogs
One of the reasons that younger children are at high risk of a dog bite is the fact that many of them are still learning how to engage with animals. They might not yet understand the signs that indicate when a dog is upset and may bite.
Many times, toddlers and children between the ages of 5 and 9 face the highest risk of injuries. And these dog attacks can leave children facing long-lasting trauma and injuries. Even though Illinois has very strict dog bite laws and compensation is available for any child who suffers from such life-changing injuries, there are ways that parents can protect their children from dangerous dogs.
1. Slowly introduce the family dog and the child to each other
Many people do not want to believe that their beloved pet could hurt their child. But if young children do not know how to interact with the dog, even the nicest dog can become agitated and bite a young child.
It is up to the parents to protect their child, and they can do so by:
- Understanding dog behavior and training dogs to interact with children
- Taking safety measures, such as restricting areas where the dog can be
- Closely observing any interactions the child has with the dog
Taking things slowly can often be best for both the child and the dog to grow accustomed to each other.
2. Determine if you live near a dangerous dog
The dangers posed by dogs do not only come from inside the home. Many people in Illinois might live near a dangerous dog and not even know it. Illinois law describes dangerous dogs as:
- Biting or attacking other dogs or people unprovoked
- Wandering off the owner’s property without a leash
- Having a history of injuring other animals or people
Since negligent owners often do not control dangerous dogs, children could face dangers in their own backyards. Parents can speak with local animal control officers or law enforcement to determine if a dangerous dog lives in their neighborhood or community.
3. Supervising children is critical
Keeping a close eye on children is one of the best ways to prevent injuries from animal attacks. Proper supervision can give parents peace of mind and children an extra degree of protection.
There is no question in Illinois law that dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries or damage done by their dog. But supervising children at play can help families prevent an attack in the first place.