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What are the risks to children associated with vicious dogs?

As a parent, you probably do everything that you can think of to help your child stay healthy and happy. Unfortunately, sometimes the most obvious risks are things you can easily overlook, like a vicious dog who lives in the home of a friend or family member.

Other times, even though you try to keep your child safe, a spontaneous incident in public could result in physical or emotional trauma thanks to an unrestrained dog. Dog owners have a responsibility to the public to properly train and restrain their animals. Sadly, not everyone does that, which can lead to dog bite attacks.

Dogs can attack and bite people of any age, with or without provocation. Dog bite attacks can cause victims emotional trauma, severe disfigurement and painful, debilitating injuries. In children, many of these risks are higher than they are in adults for a number of reasons.

Since children are still growing, disfigurement is a concern

The fact that children and teenagers still have a few years of growing ahead of them can mean that they bounce back faster to certain injuries than adults. Their recovery period may be much faster than an older person's.

However, rapid growth can also increase the likelihood of developing scar tissue. Being small may mean greater difficulty fighting off an infection. Additionally, broken bones in children could involve damage to the growth plate, which could cause substantial physiological problems in the future as your child continues to grow.

Visible bites on the face, neck, chest, hands, arms or legs may scar without proper care from a physician with a background in cosmetic surgery. Instead of fading, those scars can become bigger and more pronounced with time as the skin stretches and the body grows. The cost to minimize scarring increases with youthfulness, as children will require more ongoing care and possible multiple surgeries to correct disfigurement caused by a dog bite.

Early negative experiences leave lifelong wounds

Adults can better understand that the actions of a single animal don't necessarily impugn the character of an entire species. Children, on the other hand, can easily develop a fear of dogs or all domestic animals as a result of a vicious dog bite attack. In extreme cases that may involve prolonged attacks before an adult could intervene the child may develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Much like the physical care required to address damage to the growth plate or severe scarring, emotional wounds from childhood dog bite attacks may require years of counseling and therapy. Thankfully, your family may have options for seeking compensation under Arizona law.

Whether a claim against an insurance policy is the best idea or civil action against the dog's owner, discussing your situation with an experienced attorney can be a good way to decide what steps to take.

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