Thousands of children in Connecticut and around the country are bitten by dogs each year, and about a third of them are injured by a family pet when no adult is present. That was one of the conclusions reached by researchers from Children’s Health of Orange County after they studied almost 1,000 cases involving children who were treated for dog bite injuries between 2013 and 2018.
When the researchers checked the backgrounds of the children treated for dog bites, they discovered that they were far more likely to live in low-income urban areas than in wealthy neighborhoods. They concluded that children in poor households are more likely to live alongside poorly-trained dogs and are often left unsupervised because of the high cost of day care. More than 60% of the cases studied involved children who were bitten on the head or neck, but injuries to the hands, feet, arms and legs were also common. The study was published by the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine in November 2021.
Younger children are the most at risk
The researchers also studied the breeds of the dogs involved. They found that German shepherds were involved in most dog bite incidents involving children, but pit bull terriers caused the most serious injuries. The data reveals that children under the age of five are more likely to be bitten by dogs in the home. The researchers believe babies, toddlers and infants are bitten more often because they are more curious and unpredictable than older children. They also tend to spend more time on the floor and in close proximity to family pets.
Family pets can and often do seriously injure children, and the problem is most prevalent in low-income neighborhoods. Some cities have tried to address the problem by banning breeds considered to be dangerous, but experts believe addressing underlying factors like poverty and the lack of affordable day care would be more productive.