Dog Bites Involving Children Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dog Bite Lawyers Serving New York And Pennsylvania

Understanding the Rise in Dog Bite Cases During the Pandemic: Insights from Stanley Law Offices in Syracuse, NY

Pediatric emergency departments saw a significant increase in visits due to dog bites during the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals nationwide reported a surge in dog bite incidents since the stay-at-home orders began in March 2020. Even as these orders relaxed over time, the rates of dog bite injuries in children remained alarmingly high.

The Surge in Dog Bites During the Pandemic

One doctor stated that the increase in dog bite cases surged above the typical rise in the summertime, describing the situation as “startling.” For instance, a hospital in Colorado saw triple the number of dog bites in 2020 compared to 2019. This trend was observed in other parts of the country as well.

Factors Contributing to the Increase in Dog Bites

Several factors contributed to the rise in dog bites. Throughout the United States, millions lived under shutdown orders, restricting their ability to go to work, attend school, run errands, and engage in recreational activities. Families nationwide dealt with extreme financial stress due to massive unemployment. Many parents had to take unpaid leave or reduce their hours to stay home with their children and assist with remote learning.
With families staying at home essentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months, parents and children were unable to engage in activities they enjoyed, such as visiting parks, going to libraries, swimming at public pools, or attending outdoor events hosted by local towns and cities. The combination of financial pressure and isolation caused both humans and dogs to experience extreme stress.

The Impact of Stress on Dogs

Dogs are highly sensitive to their owners’ stress levels and are not immune to the increased anxiety experienced by many human caregivers. Additionally, parents were more stressed than ever while trying to manage work-from-home duties and their children’s education simultaneously, which affected dogs as well.

Dogs and Emotional Contagion

Many dog owners became less focused on supervising their children and pets. Researchers discovered that dogs could experience emotional contagion, mirroring the stress levels of their human caretakers. The greater the stress in humans and children, the higher the anxiety in dogs. Due to shutdown orders, many people were unable to take their dogs out for regular walks or visits to dog parks. Larger dogs, in particular, need significant exercise, and the lack of physical activity could lead to adverse interactions with children.

Increased Exposure and Rough Play

There were approximately 77 million pet dogs and 82 million children in the United States. During the pandemic, children were exposed to dogs earlier and more frequently than usual. The lack of school and other activities increased stress levels. Younger children often engaged roughly with dogs, and this rough play, combined with household stress, could cause a normally friendly dog to snap at a child. Parents, overwhelmed by the pandemic’s challenges, were less likely to monitor their children’s interactions with pets as closely as before.

Understanding the Triggers for Dog Bites

Dogs are more likely to bite when they are frightened, excited, resource guarding, or sick. Many dog bites involving children occurred when a child tried to take a dog’s toy or food. The dog’s instinct to protect its property kicked in, resulting in a bite. When parents were not closely supervising their children, small children could approach a dog’s food bowl and create a dangerous situation.

The Vulnerability of Children

Children were the most at-risk group for dog bites. The same is true today. They experienced the highest incidence of dog bites, and these bites were often more severe than those in other victim groups. Nearly 340,000 people visited emergency rooms annually for dog bites, with nearly 40% of victims being children and adolescents. This amounted to over 900 children visiting emergency rooms daily for dog bites.

Legal Recourse After a Dog Bite

Dog bites can cause severe and devastating injuries. For example, a dog attack on a victim’s face can result in extensive disfiguring scars, particularly in young children whose faces are smaller. In addition to physical pain, dog bite victims may suffer emotional trauma. If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury, you might wonder whether you can seek compensation from the dog owner.
Most states have strict liability laws regarding dog bites. These laws state that dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their dogs. There are a few exceptions, such as when a person is trespassing on the owner’s property. In nearly every situation, dog owners are responsible for their dogs biting people.

Contact Stanley Law Offices in Syracuse, NY

At Stanley Law Offices in Syracuse, NY, we understand the complexities and emotional toll of dog bite cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, don’t navigate this challenging time alone. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers is here to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 1-800-608-3333 or visit our website to learn more. We’ll be there for you every step of the way.
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