New research shows that pet dogs pose a real risk to children, especially kids who play with the dogs without supervision.
WebMD reports that the University of Colorado School of Medicine studied more than 500 kids treated for dog bites.
The study of children treated for facial bites supplies some interesting facts:
- Known to the Victims: nearly 90 percent of children who are victims of dog bites know the dog that bit them.
- Repeat Offenders: dogs that bite once are likely to bite again. Researchers found that the second strike is usually more violent than the initial one.
- Boys More Than Girls: 52 percent of kids attacked by dogs are boys.
- Younger: 68 percent of the attacks on children were on kids age five or younger; three-year-olds get the most dog bites of any age group, accounting for 15.8 percent.
- Adolescents: they're more likely than young kids to be bitten by unknown dogs.
- Hospitalization: 22.5 percent of dog bite victims need in-patient treatment.
- Provoked: more than half of all dog bites were provoked, researchers say, by kids petting too aggressively, or by stepping on or startling the animal.
They also found that the dogs most likely to attack aren't always the ones people expect violence from:
- 23 percent of attacks are carried out by mixed breed dogs
- 13 percent are committed by Labrador retrievers
- 4.9 percent are by Rottweilers
- 4.4 percent are German Shepherds
- 3 percent of attacks on kids are by golden retrievers
An important caveat to this study: it was conducted in the Denver area, where pit bulls are banned.
Source: WebMD: "Unsupervised Kids at Risk for Dog Bites": November 11, 2010