Dog puts teenage girl in hospital three days after attack on young boy

Court Columns

To see their child seriously injured is every parent's worst nightmare. It's particularly terrifying when a child is hurt by a dog. No dog owner would intentionally want their dog to harm a child. Unfortunately, thousands of children across the country every year are sent to the hospital as a result of dog attacks, says the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Children more at risk of being bitten than adults

The American Humane Association says that at least half of the people who get medical treatment every year for dog bites in the country are children. Most dog bite victims know the dog that attacked them, with the majority of attacks occurring when the kids were playing with the dogs.

According to Massachusetts law, dog owners are responsible for any physical damages their pet causes, unless the person who was attacked was trespassing, teasing or abusing the dog. Our state goes even further to protect smaller children, who are more vulnerable; kids under the age of seven are presumed not to have provoked a dog into attacking, and the dog owner will be held liable for damages.

This was the case in a recent dog attack in Mansfield, reported the Mansfield Patch. In early January, a male pointer basset hound attacked a 6-year-old boy, requiring the child to have more than 400 stitches. The Mansfield Board of Selectmen had ordered the dog to be euthanized; however, three days after the order, the dog attacked a teenage girl, who had to be hospitalized. The dog was confiscated by animal control officers, and the family says they plan to appeal the board's decision.

Preventing bites

The Humane Society of the United States has provided the following tips to help people avoid becoming the victims of dog attacks:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Don't pet a dog without first letting it see and sniff you, even a dog you know.
  • Respect a dog's space, and don't disturb it when sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Watch the dog's body language and don't approach when it seems scared or angry.

Teach children not to turn and run when a dog seems about to attack. A dog's natural instinct is to give chase. Instead, the person should stay quiet and still with their hands by their sides and not look the dog in the eye. Back away slowly when possible. If attacked, curl into a ball and try to stay still, keeping hands over ears.

Getting help from an attorney

After receiving medical attention from a dog bite, it's important to contact animal control authorities to prevent the dog from hurting someone else. If you or a child has been the victim of a dog attack, you may be facing a long recovery time as well as expensive medical bills. Our state laws are meant to protect dog bite victims, especially children. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that your rights are protected.

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