There are 2.5 million children bitten by dogs each year here in the United States. The bites often involve family dogs biting young children and toddlers on the face, neck or head. Now in the wake of the remote learning, work from home, and stay-at-home orders, record numbers of families added dogs to the family unit. This adds a new companion to the family who is blissfully unaware of the pandemic beyond the fact that family members are or were home all the time. There are many benefits to this new playmate who can bring joy to the family, but there is also a troubling trend.
Dog bites way up in Aurora
In a new study, researchers tracked the number of dog bites in Aurora, Colorado. They found that the numbers escalated after the March 26 stay-at-home order issued by the state’s governor. The city’s ER’s reported four dog bites per thousand visits in February. By May, the number had gone up to 14 per thousand visits. This trend was confirmed by a longer-term study in Liverpool, England, which also saw a surge in dog bites during the lockdown.
Why is this happening?
Researchers cite some reasons for the surge:
- Kids are home and therefore spending more time around the family dog.
- Dogs’ routines were turned upside down by the sudden and unrelenting presence of family.
- The subsequent relaxing of the pandemic rules meant more children were outside, coming into contact with other families’ dogs.
- Families may not have experience before impulsively choosing to get a dog.
- Dog training facilities were closed, thus offering no support to new dog owners and less socialization for the dogs.
Does this sound familiar?
Bringing a new dog into the family is often a great way to bring the family together, particularly when they engage in training sessions, walks and plenty of time playing. However, many longtime dog owners notice many new dogs in yards or out on walks. Parents should always take care when introducing their children to other dogs or allowing non-family children to meet the family pet. By doing so, they can avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and trauma caused by a dog bite.