Pet dogs not that harmless for kids

November 10th, 2010 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 10 (IANS) The likelihood of a child getting bitten by one’s pet dog when left unsupervised is around 50 percent, with 80 percent of those bites involving the head and the neck, says a study.

Dogs usually target a child’s face and eyes and most often it’s a breed considered safe for children, say Vikram Durairaj, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, US, who conducted the study.

“People tend to think the family dog is harmless, but it’s not,” said Durairaj, associate professor of ophthalmology and otolaryngology.

Durairaj found that 68 percent of bites occurred in children who are five years old or younger with the highest incidence in three-year-olds.

He said dog bites are especially devastating to children because they are smaller and their faces are within easy reach of the animal’s mouth.

“We have seen facial fractures around the eye, eye lids torn off, injury to the tear drainage system and the eyeball itself,” he said.

Some wounds are so severe that patients require multiple reconstructive surgeries. In the majority of cases, the child knew the dog through the family, a friend or a neighbour.

Durairaj found that mixed breeds were responsible for 23 percent of bites followed surprisingly by Labrador retrievers at 13.7 percent.

Rottweilers launched attacks in 4.9 percent of cases, German shepherds 4.4 percent of the time and Golden Retrievers 3 percent. The study was done in the Denver area where Pit Bulls are banned.

The study looked at 537 children treated for facial dog bites at The Children’s Hospital at Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus between 2003 and 2008.

And more than half the time, the dog was provoked when the child petted it too aggressively, startled or stepped on it.

These findings were presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s annual meeting.

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