Kids’ Best Friend — Or Not?

Growing up, we had a number of dogs over the years, from dachshunds to a loveable schipperke to a couple of dumb-as-doorknob borzois and never had any problems with them.  When she was an adult, however, my sister adopted an Australian shepherd and the dog bit a number of people.  That was an expensive lesson.  Luckily, no one was seriously hurt, but that’s not always the case.

A new study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that two-thirds of dog bites in children involved children ages 5 and younger.  Even more worrisome is that, in most cases, the children knew the dogs before the attack happened.  In the dogs’ defense, however, it must be noted that in over half the cases, the dog was provoked — by aggressive petting, being startled, or getting stepped on.

Vikram Durairaj, associate professor of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who conducted the study, found that dogs tend to target the face and eyes and that small children are especially at risk because of their smaller size.  “People tend to think the family dog is harmless, but it’s not,” said Durairaj.  “What is clear from our data is that virtually any breed of dog can bite.”

Durairaj recommends that children never be left alone with a dog, no matter how familiar they are with the animal or whether or not the dog is of a breed thought to be good with children, and that if a dog bites once, it should be removed from the home — it is likely to bite again and the second incident will likely be much worse.

I don’t feel any great need to get my kids a dog and, after reading about this study, certainly wouldn’t consider it until they are all much older.  Not everyone will agree, however.  What are your thoughts on bringing Rover home?

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