Child Safety and Dog Bites: Strategies for Prevention in Iowa


Dog bites pose a significant risk to children, accounting for a huge number of emergency room visits each year. As dog ownership continues to rise (50% of US households owned one or more dogs in 2020), it’s crucial that parents and guardians understand proper safety precautions when kids interact with dogs. This article will provide an overview of dog bite statistics in Iowa, highlight high-risk situations, and offer evidence-based strategies to help prevent bites and keep children safe. If a dog attack does occur, a Des Moines personal injury lawyer may be able to help. Of course, implementing even a few of these tips can greatly reduce the chance of bites and other injuries.

The Most Common Breeds to Inflict Bites

While any breed is capable of biting, certain types of dogs are implicated in severe bites more often. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breeds frequently identified in incidents include pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, and breeds with mixed backgrounds involving these. Supervision is especially important when these dogs are present. Additionally, dogs with histories of aggression or biting warrant extra care when interacting with children.

Reading Warning Signs

Many bites occur because children misinterpret or fail to recognize a dog’s body language indicating fear or anxiety. Teaching kids to spot the common signs like stiffening, staring, growling, snarling, snapping, or backing away empowers them to step back and give dogs space when needed. Also crucial is checking that a dog wants to engage before contacting them — signs of willingness include loose muscles, wagging tails, and play bows.

Managing Interactions

Simple rules can reduce the risk of being bitten during interactions between kids and dogs. Children should avoid approaching unfamiliar dogs or touching dogs without checking if it’s welcomed first. They should also stay calm, avoid staring into a dog’s eyes, refrain from grabbing collars or fur, and stick to gentle petting on the back or chest if allowed. Additionally, loud noises or fast, jerky movements that may startle dogs should be minimized. Parents can model proper behavior and coach children on these tips during visits to friends or relatives who own dogs.

Preventing Food-Related Bites

One common bite scenario involves children attempting to take away a dog’s food while they are eating. This triggers a guarding reaction in which the dog attempts to defend its meal. Allowing kids to share tidbits from the table can also cause this behavior over time. Instituting household rules that prohibit interfering with a dog while they eat or feeding them table scraps prevents this situation. Supervising mealtimes also adds a layer of safety.

What to Do If Your Child is Bitten

If your child sustains a dog bite injury, it’s crucial you seek medical care right away, both to treat wounds and determine whether antibodies or antibiotics may be needed to prevent rabies or infection. You will also need to contact the appropriate animal control agency so they can mandate a 10-day quarantine period for the dog and watch for symptoms of rabies. Be sure to get documentation of the incident through photographs and animal control reports, as this evidence can assist you and your lawyer during any legal processes.

Following Leash Laws

Letting dogs roam unrestrained dramatically increases bite risk, for both children and adults. So, keep your dog leashed whenever you are outside your home and yard. When visiting parks, adhere to the posted leash rules rather than relying on voice commands alone. Take care when leashing and unleashing at entry points like driveways as loose dogs may dart out the door unexpectedly. Following these leash laws protects visitors, delivery people, and passersby.

Consulting an Attorney if Your Child is Bitten

While following preventative strategies can help avoid many bites, dog attacks still occur. If your child suffers a serious bite causing injuries or emotional trauma, speaking to a dog bite lawyer from Monge & Associates should be your next step after medical care. An attorney can advise you on documenting evidence, help identify liable parties, manage communication with insurance companies, determine compensation for damages, and take legal action if needed, whether against the owner through Iowa’s strict liability laws or through premises liability claims.

Contact us for a free consultation if your child has endured a traumatic dog bite injury. Our legal team has extensive experience securing maximum compensation so families can move forward. Monge & Associates have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Iowa, Georgia, Colorado and Virginia.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597 to get the ball rolling.

Voted Best Law Firm by American Institute of Trial Lawyers