How to keep children safe from dog bites in Denver

There are items that pet owners and parents can do in order to prevent a dog attack in Colorado.

In mid-February 2016, three children were seriously injured when several Great Danes attacked. According to Fox 31 Denver, a woman had taken her five children with her to check on her employer's dogs in Rush, Colorado. Three dogs attacked four of the children, causing injuries so severe in three of them that surgery was required.

These incidents are devastating for everyone involved. Fortunately, there are measures that pet owners and parents alike can take to prevent a dog attack from happening.

Pet owners' responsibilities

Under Colorado law, dog owners are strictly liable for the damages a victim suffers as the result of an attack. A plaintiff who brings a lawsuit against a pet owner does not have to prove that the owner was negligent. While it is possible that an insurance company will pay for medical bills, a lawsuit could provide compensation for other losses. This provides strong incentive for owners to ensure that their dogs do not pose a threat to others.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a number of ways that pet owners can prevent a bite, such as the following:

  • Dogs should be spayed or neutered.
  • Dogs should attend reward-based behavior classes for training.
  • Dogs should be socialized because it can lead to less aggression.
  • Owners should know the early signs of aggression or the triggers that can lead to their animal's aggression.

The ASPCA also notes that at the first sign of aggressive behavior, an owner should consult with a certified applied animal behaviorist or dog trainer for help.

What parents can do

Children younger than 10 years old and dogs should not be left alone together, according to the ASPCA. Through supervising the interaction between a child and a dog, a parent can teach the child how to treat the animal with respect. This includes leaving the dog alone while it is sleeping, eating or with puppies.

It is not a good idea to approach an unfamiliar dog, a dog behind a fence or in a car. These animals may be aggressive or territorial and attack a child. Parents should teach children to always ask a dog's owner before reaching out to pet the animal.

Know the warning signs

Children, their parents and pet owners should all be familiar with the warning signs that a dog is becoming aggressive to prevent a bite and a personal injury lawsuit. The ASPCA notes that an animal that becomes still and rigid may be warning humans to back away. A deep bark and lunging are also signs that an attack may be imminent. Dogs also warn people through showing their teeth, snarling and snapping. If a dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, people are advised to walk away slowly.

Unfortunately, not every bite can be prevented. When an attack does occur, victims have the right to hold pet owners accountable for damages. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.