Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dog Bite Prevention

According to the Center for Disease Control, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people per year with 800,000 Americans requiring medical attention for those attacks. The scariest statistic is that the highest rate of dog bite related injuries were among children ages 5 – 9 years old with approximately 150,000 dog bites occurring among children under the age of 14. More importantly, the majority of injuries to children 4 years old and under were to the head/neck region, causing obvious concern regarding the possibility of severe injuries.

Despite the troubling statistics which are considered by many experts to under-represent the true number of dog bites and attacks in our country, many dog bites are widely considered to be preventable. As a result, the Center for Disease Control has published a number of ways that dog attacks can be prevented which include considerations before purchasing a dog as well as safety tips that should be taught to every child. They are as follows:

Things to Consider Before You Get a Dog:

Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household.

Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.

Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog.

Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler.

Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).

Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.

Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., wrestling).

Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling).

Immediately seek profession advice (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

Preventing Dog Bites:

Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.

Do not run from a dog and scream.

Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.

If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.

Prevent children from playing with a dog unless supervised by an adult.

Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult

Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.

Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating or especially caring for puppies.

Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

If bitten, immediately report the bite.

The full article can be found at

NOTE: If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite or attack, many of these factors, especially the "Things to Consider Before You Get a Dog" are investigated and may form the basis of a cause of action against a caretaker of a dog for negligence in addition to the statutory strict liability claim against the owner. On the other side of the case, the insurance company will likely attempt to question the bitten person's actions prior to the bite, using many of the factors listed in "Preventing Dog Bites" in an attempt to limit their monetary exposure.


Martey said...

I really must take offense to your dog bite TV ad. I am so tired of pit bulls being used to demonstrate a "dangerous dog." I have owned these wonderful dogs for 22 years and have never had a problem. It's getting really tiresome to see pit bulls presented as vicious animals, and it is definitely worse in this case where their reputation is tarnished by you just to make money.

Martey said...

I really must take offense to your dog bite TV ad. I am so tired of pit bulls being used to demonstrate "dangerous dogs." I have owned these wonderful dogs for 22 years and they have brought nothing but joy into my life. It is getting so tiresome to see pit bulls being portrayed as vicious, and it is even worse in this case because you're doing it just to make money.

G R L Law said...


We appreciate you viewing our add and blog and giving us your opinion. We further appreciate your love of dogs and your defense of pit bulls in particular. In fact, the majority of the partners in our firm are dog owners and we in no way mean to disparage dogs or any particular breed. We would concede that pit bulls can make loving pets if properly cared for, trained and monitored.

However, we would point out that our legislature and our courts in Iowa have made it incumbent upon dog owners to ensure the safety of all those who might potentially come into contact with our dogs. While pit bulls may or may not be more prone to attacks than other breeds, a dog of any breed may have an individual propensity towards violent or aggressive behavior. Given that pit bulls have historically been bred for battle and fighting other dogs and animals, they are particularly adept at causing injury to people or animals if so inclined. As such, attacks by Pit bulls or other similar bulldogs, terriers, or mastiffs, can often be more harmful to the victim than from other dogs. So it is the severity of the potential injury, and not the individual propensity, that leads many to associate such dogs with attacks.

We at GRL Law seek to protect the rights of Iowans. Iowans have the right to live free from attacks from domesticated animals just as Iowans have the right to own dogs and other domesticated animals. We believe that the majority of Iowans are responsible dog owners who ensure the safety and well-being of individuals that may come into contact with their pets, just as they ensure the safety and well-being of the pets themselves. However, there also exist dog owners who would not be so responsible and, unfortunately, one rotten apple spoils the bunch. Therefore, our lawmakers have seen fit to ensure the safety of all Iowans by placing the responsibility on dog owners to ensure the safety of others around them.

Accordingly, we stand ready to help protect the rights of Iowans in such cases just as we would in cases where a negligent driver, storeowner, physician, or other individual causes injury to you or a loved one.

Thanks you again for visiting our website and taking the time to post your thoughts We sincerely are glad to have one of the many responsible pet owners of our state taking the time to explore our site and engage us in thoughtful discussion.


They Attorneys at GRLLaw

Martey said...

Thank you for your kind response.

As I mentioned before (in my 2 posts--that was an accident; sorry) I have been involved with this breed for 22 years and I am well aware of the responsibility required by dog owners. I am also extremely aware that "one rotten apple spoils the bunch." And I do know that as lawyers you are public servants that are ready when called upon for help. What frustrates me is that pit bulls are the most abused dogs on the planet and an ad like yours that portrays them as vicious will help to perpetuate that. Also, responsible pit bull owners have enough legal trouble just owning their dogs; anything that ecourages the "vicious" stereotype makes it that much more difficult. When I heard your ad about dog bites and looked at the TV, it made me very sad to see the beautiful face of "one of my own" looking calmly into the camera. The dog was doing nothing but sitting there and simply because of its breed was being portrayed as the enemy. These dogs are hated enough and encouraging people to hate them more is just wrong. I have a wonderful 11-year-old female pit bull whom I've owned since her birth. She is a sweet, light-hearted lady with a great sense of humor, but my neighbors are afraid of her because of her appearance. What will they do when they see your ad? Will that be the push they need to start a petition to try and have my girl removed from the neighborhood? She's done nothing wrong, but your ad suggests that she might. I just think that showing an aggressive or barking dog of an indiscriminate breed would have been in better taste.