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Dog bites down, but not for everyone

Dogs can be wonderful companions for all ages, but they are also unpredictable, as are all animals. A bite from a dog can cause excruciating pain, debilitating injuries and disfiguring scars. Dog bites frequently become infected, causing even more medical challenges for the victim.

The good news is that dog bites across the country have dropped in the past year. However, that's not the whole story. If you live in Minnesota, you may be more likely to suffer a dog bite than in most other states. If you have a child, especially one who is a toddler, you have even more reason for concern.

Watch your children

Earlier this year, the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition, several insurance agencies and animal activists reported a drop of about 9% in claims related to dog bites since the previous year. Unfortunately, the statistics are not so good for children under age 1. As a parent, you understand the agony of watching your child suffer, so you may find it shocking to learn that dog bite claims for that age bracket doubled in the past year. Over 3,000 children landed in the emergency room with wounds from dog attacks.

Minnesota is among the top 10 states with the highest number of dog bite claims to insurers. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises parents to learn and teach their children how to recognize the signs that a dog may be feeling anxious or threatened. This may prevent your child from suffering a bite from your family dog, but it may not keep your child completely safe.

Who is responsible?

Dog owners who fail to socialize, train or properly restrain their animals place your child in danger. If your child plays outside, in a public park or even in a neighbor's yard, he or she may be vulnerable to the attack of an unrestrained, undisciplined dog. Animals whose owners allow them to run free through the neighborhood or playground may mistake a child's movements as a threat or perhaps as the actions of prey.

There is no way to fully understand how the mind of an animal works or what may excite or frighten it into a dangerous reaction. However, the law holds a negligent dog owner fully responsible for the consequences when his or her dog attacks or bites someone. If your child has suffered injuries from an unprovoked dog attack, you may wish to reach out to an attorney for information about your legal options.

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