Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kids And Dogs Can't Be Left Unsupervised

Yesterday, I reported on the case of the 15 month old kid who was bitten by a dog. Now, today, we have a second story, which is being linked to the first. Neither story has a common thread, yet both reference the new breed ban in Australia.

Here is how this story is being reported:

A SEVEN-year-old boy has been bitten on the hand by a dog as he played in Sydney's northern suburbs. The boy, who was not seriously injured, was the second child to be attacked by a dog in the northern suburbs in two days He was bitten by a Rottweiler as he played outside a house in Narraweena this afternoon, a Warringah Council spokeswoman said. “The child was interacting with the dog through a fence but at this stage we're unclear as to which property this alleged attack took place,” the spokeswoman said.

So, this kid puts his hand through a fence and gets bitten by a dog. Is that the dog's fault? Does this have ANYTHING to do with breed? The answer is NO to both questions. Yet the press brings up the breed in this bite case. Where were the parents? I don't blame the dog in this instance. You can't put your hand through a fence to interact with a dog that isn't yours, period. This also shows why you need to have better fencing when containing your dog. Chain link isn't sufficient. A kid can reach through and get bitten like this, and even though it won't be your fault, you're going to be sued and will probably lose the case. The chain link needs to be surrounded by a covering if a dog is to be left alone in your yard. The covering can be a wooden fence, mesh material, bushes, etc. But, you need something. Dogs at home will be territorial. I do not believe it is wise to leave dogs unsupervised in a yard. You need to build a kennel to house the dog while you are away to prevent this kind of thing. The kennel should be set back from the perimeter of the property, not facing any walkway where a pedestrian can reach in to pester the dog. Dogs should only be left in the back yard if you are there at home to supervise. I also recommend posting Beware Of Dog and No Trespassing signs around your property, though that isn't going to help you 100% in court in bite cases with small kids, but it might mitigate the damages.

Now, we get more facts on yesterday's attack:

a.) The family and the child were familiar with the dog... The toddler's mother was distracted with another one of her children when the dog lunged about 4pm (AEST) yesterday at their Belrose home, in Sydney's north. "As far as she knows, the child didn't provoke the dog," Dr Hassall said. "The mum was completely beside herself. She was feeling guilty. She's stressed. Although she's not at all to blame, she feels that she's somehow let her daughter down."

b.) Police say the dog had escaped from the backyard of a nearby house while its owner was out.

The mother IS at fault for not watching her kid. The owner of the dog IS at fault if the dog escaped the yard. The breed of dog is irrelevant to the case, yet most of the reports include details of the breed of dog... a mix.

None of this would have happened if the parents of the kids were more vigilant, and if the dogs were better contained in a locked kennel while the owners were away. We never want to blame a mother when they let a kid get bitten. Would you feel the story would have been reported the same way if the kid had wandered off into the street and was run over by a truck, or the kid fell off a cliff while they were out camping, or scalding water came down on the kid in the kitchen while the mother was fussing with something else? And we have to start telling people that they need to stop leaving dogs unsupervised in the yard when they are away. It’s easier to blame a dog. We just don’t want to hurt people’s feelings these days. I’m just not that politically correct. If we are to prevent these kinds of things, then we need to deal with reality.

No comments: