As with any topic that can draw strong emotions, this can be a very passionate debate on what exactly is responsible parenting and responsible canine guardianship.
Statistics & the hard facts
Did you know that 70% of dog bites occur in or around the home and are from a familiar dog to the child? The dog is usually their own pet, or belongs to a neighbour, friend or relative.
More than half of these dog bites are related to seemingly innocuous (synonyms:harmless, safe, innocent) play such as cuddling a dog & feeding.
Children are usually bitten on the head, face or neck and can result in permanent scarring – both physical and emotional.
55% of these children suffer from post traumatic after a substantial bite.
What dogs bite
Any breed of dog can bite, any individual dog within each breed can bite. This includes those dogs that always appear friendly and the dogs that has “never bitten before”. One study showed that two-thirds of reported dog bites were from dogs that had never bitten before. Children are twice as likely to be bitten by a dog than an adult.
Almost half of all children, yes HALF of all children will be bitten by the time they turn 18. One-fifth of these children will require medical treatment as a result of their injuries.
Children under the age of 5 years of age are most likely to be bitten and smaller children are often more seriously injured.
Horrifically, fatalities from dog attacks do occur. A innocent beautiful 6 week old baby was killed by their small breed pet dog after being attacked when it’s carer went to the kitchen to prepare a bottle.
If we truly acknowledge the above facts, why is it that our children are still being bitten at alarming high rates? This is where I believe the conversation should start. There has been legislation that has blamed particular breeds of dogs, however this legislation has proven to do nothing to provide safety to our children and has cost billions of taxpayers dollars as well as our high courts dismissing cases based on misleading information about breeds rather than fact.
What to do from here?
If I ask myself “How can we protect our children and create a safe community”, I am then lead to also ask myself another question; “How are we first educated in regards to being a responsible dog guardian?” From many discussions I have had, our concept of responsibility of owning a dog is taught via environmental factors such the family home we grew up in.
So this is where I ask “What if, what we know is neither correct or safe practice”?
We could learn from our past: For example 50+ years ago it was ok to smoke and even recommended by GP’s, Asbestos was a wonderful building material and deliberately consuming a tapeworm was the accepted practice to lose weight.
Questions to ask about Safe Kids and K9’s
Why is it that we as a community are not learning from our past mistakes?
Why do many of us have the “it will never happen to me” mentality?
Why don’t we believe the science, but the hype based on fear, not fact?
It is from asking ourselves these questions from an intellectual and factual space opposed to an emotional place that we can discover how it is we can move forward towards creating safe home environments for our children and a safe community as a whole.
I hope that reading this can start a thought provoking conversation around how we can create a safer home environment and community for our children.
It is with education that we obtain knowledge, and this knowledge empowers us to implement change in the manner in which we perceive the safe supervision of dogs around children.
Safe Kids and K9’s Together
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