Late in 2018, a New Hampshire man was arrested after his dog, which was not properly licensed or vaccinated, bit a 13-year-old girl in the face while she visited the man’s apartment with her aunt. A local newspaper reported that the man was charged with having a nuisance animal, a misdemeanor offense, and was arrested for not cooperating with police. The injury did cause the teen to bleed, and she was taken to a local hospital, but the newspaper did not indicate if the injury will have permanent effects.

Children are especially vulnerable to dog bites

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are more likely than adults to be bitten by dogs. When this happens, the injuries are also typically more severe than the injuries adults sustain.

Because children are more vulnerable than adults are to dog bites, it is important that parents and other caretakers make sure the children in their care are behaving safely around dogs. It is also important that an adult always supervises the interactions between young children and dogs.

Safe behaviors to teach children, include:

  • Asking permission before touching a dog
  • Not running from a dog
  • Avoiding contact with a dog that is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies

What to do if my child is bitten

Although it is good to encourage safe behaviors around dogs, sometimes you cannot prevent a dog bite. If a dog bites your child’s face, neck, hand, foot or joint, you should seek immediate medical care. You should also seek immediate care if the wound is deep or does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure.

Otherwise, clean the wound, apply antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with gauze. Even if it is not an emergency, consider taking a child to the doctor for any wound that breaks the skin because the child may need antibiotics, a tetanus booster or rabies shots.

If possible, you should also exchange information with the dog’s owner and verify that the animal is up to date on vaccines. You can also try to exchange contact information with anyone who witnessed the incident.

Then you should contact the local animal control agency or police department to report the bite. This and all other documentation you can provide regarding the incident and your child’s injuries can be an important part of potential lawsuits and insurance claims.

In New Hampshire, the owner of a dog is liable for the injuries his or her animal causes. Depending on your situation, it may be appropriate to seek compensation for your child’s medical bills and suffering that were caused by the bite.