Many Southern California residents know that they live in a part of the country where dog bites and animal attack injuries tend to occur with some frequency. A recent report from CBS News alerted readers to a pit bull attack that occurred in Van Nuys. The victim sustained serious injuries, including cuts and bite marks to his hands and face. As a result of his injuries, the victim required hospitalization. According to the report, the incident occurred shortly before 5:15 p.m. on a Thursday evening in a local business parking lot. This is not the only dog attack in recent memory. A recent article in the Castro Valley Patch reported that a woman was attacked by a dog late last month, and she required hospitalization to treat the multiple bite wounds she sustained. That incident occurred just before 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning near a local golf course.
Are dog attacks actually this common in Southern California? What can we do to prevent them?
Recalling a Deadly Dog Bite Incident in San Diego Last Spring
For a number of San Diego residents, these recent animal attack reports may bring back startling memories of an incident that happened last spring in which an infant was attacked and killed by a dog. As an article in Reuters explains, a three-day-old infant boy was killed during a dog attack in his parents’ bedroom last April in San Diego. The family, including the parents and the infant, had been laying in bed with their dog just prior to the incident. The dog, an American Staffordshire terrier-Great Dane mix weighing 97 pounds had been lying near the three-day-old child. The dog was startled when the infant’s mother coughed unexpectedly, and it “bit the baby, causing traumatic injury,” according to the article.
While the parents were able to remove the dog and were able to rush the infant to a nearby hospital, the young child died as a result of the injuries. A sergeant with the San Diego police described the incident as a “tragic accident.”
The dog was taken into quarantine, and a subsequent autopsy, according to a report in CBS News, confirmed that the boy died as a result of dog bites to his dead. The San Diego County medical examiner ruled the death an accident.
Preventing Dog Bite Injuries
According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 4.5 million dog bites happen every year in the United States. Of these dog bites, about 20% get infected. Anytime a dog bite occurs, the attack can result in serious and sometimes even fatal injuries. The CDC emphasizes that young children are at greatest risk of serious injuries from dog bites, particularly those in between the ages of five and seven years old. The CDC also underscores that about 50% of dog bite injuries happen in the household where the dog lives, just like in the incident that happened in San Diego with the three-day-old boy.
Preventing dog bites can have more to do with what you should not do than what you should do. The CDC highlights the following safety tips:
- Do not approach a dog you do not know;
- Do not run from a dog;
- Do not panic or make any loud noises when you encounter a dog;
- Do not disturb a dog when it is eating, sleeping, or caring for its puppies;
- Do not reach to pet a dog before allowing it to sniff you and see you;
- Do not encourage aggressive play with dogs; and
- Do not allow dogs to play unsupervised around small kids.
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(image courtesy of Andraz Muljavec fotomorgana)