Pediatric emergency departments have seen an increase in visits due to dog bites since the coronavirus pandemic began. A hospital in Colorado has reported that they have seen a significant increase in dog bites since the stay-at-home order began in March. Even as these orders have become more relaxed over time, they continue to see high rates of dog bite injuries in children.
One doctor stated that the increase in dog bites cases has surged above the normal increase doctors see in the summertime, describing the rise as “startling.” One hospital has seen triple the number of dog bites in 2020 so far as they saw in 2019. Dog bites have been on the rise in other parts of the country, as well.
Why are Dog Bites on the Rise?
There are several different reasons why dog bites could be on the rise. Throughout the United States, millions of people live under some type of shut down orders, restricting their ability to go to work, go to school, run errands, and engage in recreational activities. Families across the United States are dealing with extreme financial stress, caused by massive unemployment numbers. Many parents have had to go on unpaid leave or cut back their hours to stay at home with their children and assist with remote learning.
Many of us have had to stay at home essentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months. Parents and children have not been able to engage in activities they enjoy, such as visiting the park, going to the library, going to a public pool, or engaging in outdoor events hosted by their local towns and cities. The financial pressure, mixed with the isolation, has caused humans and dogs to feel extreme stress.
Dogs are susceptible to stress levels in their owners. They are not immune to the increased anxiety that many of their human caregivers experience. Additionally, parents are more stressed-out than ever while trying to complete their work from home and manage their children’s education simultaneously.
Dogs are Also Under More Stress
It is possible that many dog owners simply are not as focused on supervising their children or their dogs. Some researchers have discovered that dogs may experience an emotional contagion in which they mirror their human caretakers’ stress levels—the greater the stress of the humans and children, the greater the dog’s anxiety. Due to the shutdown orders, many people cannot take their dogs out for walks as frequently, or to the dog park and on outings. Larger dogs especially need significant exercise each day, and when they are pent-up without receiving it, they can snap and interact adversely with children.
There are now approximately 77 million pet dogs and 82 million children in the United States. In some cases, children are exposed to dogs earlier than they would normally be. The increased number of children without any breaks from school or other activities can cause significant stress. Younger children often engage roughly with dogs, and the stress of being played with roughly combined with household stress can cause a dog who was otherwise friendly to snap at a child. Parents are extremely overwhelmed and less likely to monitor their children’s interactions with pets as closely as before the pandemic started.
Dogs are More Likely to Bite When They are Frightened
Dogs are much more sensitive than many people give them credit for. Research has shown that dogs are more likely to bite people when they are resource guarding, frightened, excited, or sick. Many dog bites involving children happen when a child tries to take a dog’s toy or food. The dog’s instinct to protect their property kicks in, and they bite the child who removes their toy or another beloved item. When parents are not watching their children as closely as they normally do, small children can go over to the dog’s food bowl and try to take their food, creating a risk for a dangerous dog bite.
Children are at the Highest Risk of Dog Bites
Children are the most at-risk group when it comes to dog bites. Children experience the greatest incidences of dog bites, and dog bites are more severe in children than in other groups of victims. Every year, nearly 340,000 people visit the emergency room to seek medical treatment for dog bites. Of those, nearly 40% of dog bite victims are children and adolescents. This amounts to over 900 children a day visiting emergency rooms for dog bites.
Bringing a Lawsuit After a Dog Bite
Dog bites can cause severe and devastating injuries. For example, when a dog attacks a victim’s face, he or she can cause extensive disfiguring scarring. Dogs can do more damage to young children because their faces are so much smaller than adults. In addition to having to live with scars, dog bites can be extremely painful. If you or your loved one has become injured due to a dog bite, you may be wondering whether you can seek compensation from the owner.
Most states have strict liability laws when it comes to dog bites. These laws state that when an owner’s dog bites someone else, the owner is strictly liable for any injuries. There are usually a few exceptions to these rules. For example, when someone is trespassing on the dogs owner’s property, the owner is not liable for any bites. Essentially, dog owners are responsible for their dogs biting people in nearly every situation.
Contact Our Law Firm as Soon as Possible
If you or your loved one have suffered injuries due to a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. It’s wise to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free case evaluation.