Reality star Kim Zolciak announced on social media that her 4-year-old son had been seriously injured in a dog attack and was hospitalized as a result. According to a report in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the star of Bravo’s “Don’t Be Tardy” wrote the afternoon of April 23, 2017 that her last 14 hours had been a “living nightmare.” She said her son, Kash, had been bitten by a dog and suffered traumatic injuries. She also said he was in an operating room for a couple of hours. The details about the dog, its owner or the circumstances surrounding the incident are not known. A little later, she posted a social media update saying her son was going home, earlier than expected.
Children and Dog Attacks
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. One out of five bites becomes infected. Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.
Among children and adults, having a dog in the household is associated with a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Children tend to suffer more severe injuries because of their size. They also tend to suffer facial injuries because of their height.
If Your Child Has Been Injured
If your child has been attacked by someone else’s dog, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Under California’s strict liability statute, dog owners can be held financially responsible for the injuries caused by their pets. California Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Here are a few steps parents and caregivers can take to protect their children from dog attacks:
- Teach your children not to approach dogs that are not their own, even if the dog is on leash and with its owner or handler.
- When a child visits a home with a dog, make sure that the children will not be left unsupervised with the dog.
- Teach your child to be “a tree” when confronted with an unknown, overly friendly or hostile dog. This means they should fold their hands, look at their feet and remain still until the dog goes away.
- Children should never go near a dog that is eating, drinking or caring for puppies.