Dogs can easily attack unsupervised children

Olufemi Oboye

A sad incident occurred again on Monday in a suburb of Ikorodu, Lagos State, in which a three-year-old girl named Aliyah was attacked by three Alsatian dogs. The attack which lasted about two hours left Aliyah with a damaged eye, an extracted tooth, and multiple injuries on her body.

In fact, on arrival at the General Hospital, Ikorodu, she was presumed dead. But, after a short medical battle, she was resuscitated. A medical official at the general hospital, who did not want to be identified, said “Aliyah might need a plastic surgery to regain the use of the affected eye.”

The big question to ask when cases like this come up is, “Where were her parents or guardian during the two-hour long attack?”

As the saying goes, “There are no bad dogs; there are only bad owners.” So, every dog owner should practise what I call “responsible pet ownership”. Ensure you keep the right breed of dog. Not all breeds are suitable for everyone. In fact, there are certain dog breeds you are strongly advised not to keep if you have children at home.

Unsupervised children are most susceptible to dog attacks because the small frame of a child puts them closer to the dog’s level, hence, dogs and other animals see them as preys.

For example, Aliyah’s father, Wasiu, a vulcaniser, was in charge of feeding the dogs after their owner travelled to London, United Kingdom. He had reportedly left Aliyah in the house while he quickly dashed out to purchase the dogs’ feed.

In Wasiu’s absence, one of the dogs identified as Rover allegedly broke loose from the kennel and entered their apartment.The dog reportedly dragged her from the house to the backyard, where two other dogs joined in attacking her.

To prevent such attacks on children, please ensure that your dog is properly socialised and trained because dogs that have been trained will have better control over predatory instincts. In addition, ensure you exercise your pet and provide good food for it. Several studies have revealed that dogs that get enough exercise and food are less likely to attack when provoked.

Despite adequate training and proper feeding, any dog is capable of “attacking,” depending on the circumstances. So, dog owners should be diligent to supervise them during interactions, particularly with children.

This sad story is a wake-up call to a more responsible parenting, pet ownership, and implementation of relevant safety measures when we are around these creatures.

Children should not be encouraged to play outdoors in an environment where a strange dog is present. If they must, they should never be left unsupervised. Also, you should teach them to realise that the fact that they can play with their own pets does not mean they can do so with any other they see. They should be taught to always ask for permission from the owner of the dog before they play with it. They should never approach a barking, growling or scared dog.

Please, always respect a dog’s space. Keep your hands away from a dog’s fence or kennel. Dogs are territorial and they consider their living areas as their personal property and may growl or bite to protect it.

A dog should be kept on a leash when it is out in a public place. However, if you see one wandering loose without the owner, do not attempt to run away and do not make loud noises.

Children should be reminded not to go near or play with a dog that is eating or having a treat. Don’t play with a dog’s favourite toy.

Also, Children should never try to scare off a dog by throwing sticks or stones because hitting a dog will make it feel threatened and cause it to escalate the aggression.

Finally, please always note that despite domestication, our dogs still have some preserved “instincts of the wild.” Every dog has a potential to defend itself if it feels threatened or does not understand your body language.
So, please seek information. Online resources, veterinary doctors and responsible pet owners are sources of information.

Have a great weekend.

Dear readers, please mail or SMS your questions and comments. I’d be glad to hear from you and to respond promptly and appropriately.

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