A study conducted by Contemporary Pediatrics in 2011 revealed that as many as four million dog bites are reported each year in the United States. A significant number of the victims are kids. Researchers also found that while physical scars tend to heal, children who suffer dog bites often struggle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), something that can affect their emotional, social and academic growth for a lifetime.
The researchers found that dog bite injuries — specifically those that occurred at the shoulders or higher — were particularly traumatic. They noted that a child having to endure an angry and vicious animal in their face was not an easily forgotten event. While they found that most adults began healing from such a traumatic event by sharing their experience with others, kids fail to do the same.
They found that kids harbored a lot of the shock from having an aggressive dog in their face, something that often sent them into emotional overload. When they would muster the strength to tell someone else the story of what happened to them, the researchers found that the parents’ faces of sadness, regret or guilt affected their child’s ability to heal.
The researchers found that the younger a child was when the dog bite occurred, the more apt that they were to have lasting PTSD symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms that children exhibited included an increased startled response, withdrawal, depression, decreased academic performance and creativity, anxiety, physical discomfort and appetite, behavioral or sleep changes.
Each of these issues has the potential of affecting a child’s socialization, academic progress and emotional development. Researchers found that affected children tended to avoid future close interactions with dogs. When coming in contact with dogs was inevitable, child victims were often paralyzed with fear.
All California dog owners are responsible for their pet’s behavior. You may be able to sue an owner for the cost of your injuries from a dog bite — particularly if you can prove that the owner knew the dog was prone to violence. If you’ve been victimized, talk to an experienced dog bite attorney about your situation.