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Dogs and Kids: A Fatal Mix?

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For these children, "dog's best friend" was just the opposite.


This weekend, we heard about the 10-year-old boy from Michigan who was forced to get his arm amputated after being severely mauled by his family's pet pit bull. Then two days later, an 8-week-old baby from Oklahoma was mauled and killed by a black lab puppy when he was left unattended in his baby swing.

The CDC estimates that almost 5 million people a year are bitten by dogs in the United States, with as many as 800,000 people, more than half of them children, requiring medical attention for their dog bites. Many of these cases are fatal, or leave kids disfigured for life.

Here are a few cases that sent shivers down our spine:

  • 3-year-old Tony Evans was found dead in front of the doghouse after being attacked by a pit bull. The pit bull was chained to the house, but made its way to the boy.
  • 5-year-old Pablo Hernandez was mauled to death by the family pit bull in their backyard. He was dragged around the backyard, suffering major damage to his face, head and torso and died shortly after from his injuries.
  • 1-year-old Abraham Jonathan Tackett wandered into the neighbor's backyard where several husky mixed breeds were eating. The father found the child as he was being attacked, but could not save him. According to reports, the dog that attacked was protecting his food.
  • 2-year-old Holden Jernigan was attacked and killed by the family's pit bull. While under his grandmother's care, he wandered into the backyard where he was brutally attacked.
  • 6-year-old Sabin Jones-Abbott was attacked by the family's new pit bull/boxer mix as he went to feed it. The boy's father found his lifeless body in their home.
  • 15-month-old Charlotte Blevins was seriously injured when she and her mom, her mom's friend, and another baby on an afternoon walk were attacked by a pit bull when the dog escaped from its leash.
  • 2-year-old Amaya Hess had a pit bull latch on to her head with his mouth for 5 to 8 minutes. The claw end of a hammer was used to open the dog's jaw to release her. Amaya's scalp was missing, her right eye out of its socket and her right ear was torn from the side of her head. After 9 surgeries and 69 days of medically-induced coma, Amaya is facing years of reconstructive surgery. Doctors estimate she'll have somewhere between 30 to 40 surgeries over her lifetime.

Are dogs safe for kids?

We spoke with Colleen Lynn, founder of, who said some are -- and some aren't. "There are aggressive breeds of dogs, including pit bulls and rottweillers, that I don't think are appropriate to have around children. They don't have a good safety record, and you are definitely taking a chance."

Lynn, who survived a pit bull attack herself a year ago, says even going to someone's house who has a pit bull or a dangerous breed is a unnecessary risk for your children. "These dogs were bred for violence," she says. "It's in their genes. Even if they have good owners, love is not going to take genetics away. Why take the chance, if it could cost your kid his or her life?"

Of course, some dog owners (particularly pit bull owners) disagree. One mother named Elyse posted the following video of her baby Max with her pit bull on YouTube:

Whether you are pro-dog or anti-dog, everyone agrees you should never leave a baby or small child unattended with a dog under any circumstances (even if it's the family pet). For more dog bite prevention tips, click here.

Do you think dogs are dangerous for kids?

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87 comments so far | Post a comment now
Yeah-me July 30, 2008, 5:57 PM

To Dogowner —
Why do you keep bashing and the owner? This is not a forum about that site, it is a forum for mothers to discuss whether dogs are safe with kids. Do you have some personal issue with the site?

sherri July 30, 2008, 11:19 PM

This is absurd and the YouTube image of the dog licking the baby’s hand is a tragedy waiting to happen. Even dogs who are well treated and lovable can have an “instinct” moment. When that happens no one may be quick enough to prevent serious harm or death. The baby in that video is marginally safe now. It doesn’t crawl around yet. The dog doesn’t relate to it as “prey,” but that’s not to say it won’t at any given time once the baby starts getting mobile.

Tami H July 31, 2008, 6:47 AM

How can anyone who reads or watches the news deny that Pit Bulls are dangerous? If there is Even a slight chance that a Pit Bull is going to hurt a child, why would you risk it? A HUMAN life is worth more than a dogs.

amber July 31, 2008, 7:23 AM

my sister son was told by their neighbor to go fed the their dog and when he got close enough to it , the dog attcked him. my sister ran out to the screams. and pulled the dog off. her neighbor should have known better and my sister should have pressed charges.her sons face was seirverly tore. luckly he had a good dr.
if it was me and my son i would have shot the dog on the spot no guestions

Pipersmom July 31, 2008, 7:29 AM

This is why everyone should own a Sheltie!! Sorry, but this was getting too dog bashing. I liked the comment by Cindell that in order to own a dog or any animal, a person must take a class. But then again, people must take classes to drive, ride motorcycles, do most anything and get a license, but ANYONE can have a baby and there is NO training required!!! Talk about where are our priorities!

Myra July 31, 2008, 8:20 AM

Yeah, that’s right, make sure NEVER to speak to ANY canine experts or professionals before writing these articles. Just talk to some crazy lady (Colleen Lynn) who was bit by a Pit bull and get her “opinion” on dogs.
Hey, I was in a near-fatal car accident, it DOES NOT MAKE ME A MECHANIC. I do not know how cars work, how to fix them and I am NOT a traffic safety expert just because I was run over by a car!
What another garbage piece of “reporting” by a lazy person who prints the rantings of a woman with a very obvious agenda.
Ah, the dumbing of America.

dmv July 31, 2008, 8:45 AM

It is irresponsible owners that should be to blame and parents who do not watch over their children. children should NEVER be left alone with any animal. A dog that is left outside chained is unsocialized and would act out in an aggresive way to protect his terrain. I have 4 dogs who are very socialized and well taken care of yet I would never allow my children to be left alone with them. When they have friends over I put the dogs in another room unless I am in the same room as the children. Dogs do give warning signs when they are unhappy, it could be body language, a growl- among many other signs, a child would not be able to read these signs and could be bitten.

chrystal  July 31, 2008, 9:17 AM


Anonymous July 31, 2008, 9:25 AM

How does the party responsible for managing canines go about educating EVERYONE? or forcing everyone to submit to being educated? Is that possible? Isn’t the easiest solution to avoiding vicious attacks, banning breads that have a documented record of attacking humans and other animals? We all love our animals and don’t want our personal rights to change or be infringed upon, however they do based on the need on the overall community, not just your household. We all live here together, weather we like it or not.

Caidy July 31, 2008, 9:29 AM

There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Pit bulls and boxers are bred to have strong, lean bodies and extremely powerful jaws. No dog can be “bred into agression”. Rotties are not “dangerous” unless their owner DOES NOT PROPERLY TRAIN THE DOG. My own dog is a German shepherd. People are scared of him because he’s really big, black, and looks like a wolf. But we’ve trained him to be calm and listen to us. I’ve known pit bulls who are the calmest, most friendly dogs I’ve ever met. The people who claim certain breeds are dangerous are people who are ignorant of dogs and their needs. For example, if you get an older puppy from a puppy mill, chances are it will be agressive or unfriendly. People buy them from mills anyway, don’t even try to train it properly, and then when the poor dog misbehaves, the owners blame it on the whole breed.

Also, if you can’t restrain your two-year-old from wandering around your yard alone with a dog, how can you handle a household pet at all? The majority of these “attacks” are induced by children and even adults mistreating the dog, or threatening it. These people don’t know better, and the dog doesn’t know better, because of the people’s ignorance to a dog’s needs.

Nancy Smiejek July 31, 2008, 9:33 AM

NO small child or baby should be left alone period but the crap in the dog foods and shots that the dogs don’t need are changing them too everyone start doing your your homework on these subjects and it will shock you

cheri July 31, 2008, 10:00 AM

I believe it’s the parents who leave their children alone are whats bad.
I have an american pitbull dog, and I have 2 young children, but I am not stupid enough to leave them alone with him, even though he is the best dog I have ever had.
I have common sense. duh.

Moose July 31, 2008, 10:06 AM

I ran a pony party business for years, was president of the local humane society, worked for a vet and was even a dog owner so I came in contact with dogs on a daily basis. I would show up at parties with my ponies and when requesting the owner lock up the dog the reply was always the same “my dog wont bite” I would just say “just like my ponies have hooves and have never kicked, they can and any animal that has teeth can bite” I do not believe in chaining a dog as it does make them a “different” dog. The evironment can make a dog a “different” dog. So many factors are involved we cannot even begin to discuss them all here. Pit and Rotties catch more hell because their bites are so much more powerful and cause more damage and get more “press” If the press reported every chihuahua or poodle bite that occurs OMG there would be a public outcry on those lil buggers. So the entire picture needs to be looked at. Not just what the eyes behind our rose colored glasses choose to see. When you read about these attacks most have an unsupervised child. Do we put neglectful parents down? no, we smack their hands and put the dog down which I hate to say I do believe a agressive dog of any kind should be destroyed. (that outta cause some backlash) So step back look around and go from there.


Eileen July 31, 2008, 10:16 AM

Common sense tells you to never leave a child alone with an animal-children are so rambunctious and energetic that they are seen as a potential threat to most dogs. Our two dogs (adult Lab and German Shepherd) are very well mannered but I would never trust them to be so without me standing close by! Sebastian is a layed back Labrador but when I administer salve to his wounds, he snips-so I handle that situation alone and with gloves, towel, whatever. I would certainly never expect a child to have the strength or common sense of an adult when alone with dogs, especially large breed dogs of 85+ pounds. Definitely the parent is the responsible party whenever a dog gets loose from your yard.

TJ July 31, 2008, 10:19 AM

I agree that owners need to take responsibility for their dogs and parents need to take responsibility for their children. I have had 3 dogs (1 passed on and 2 are still living). Just as parents take the time and effort to raise their children - pet owners also need to take the time and effort to raise their dogs. To make them understand where their place is, what will be tolerated and what will not be tolerated. Dogs are smarter than you think. If you’re not willing to take the time and make the effort - DO NOT GET A DOG!!!!

You’ve heard the saying that kids are products of their parents….. pets are products of their owners.

lovebeetle July 31, 2008, 10:26 AM

Why do we always try to fix blame and spout generalities. We need to finally take responsibility for our own actions. Yes, all animals can be dangerous, all children can be ignorant, and all parents and animal owners can be stupid at one time or another, but the opposite is also true.

Think of all the people who are killed and maimed in car accidents each year. Should we ban cars because they are dangerous. No! That would be just dumb. Just as with driving, when there is a tragic animal attack we should examine it, learn from it, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Parents watch your kids, owners watch your dogs. Lets not be carry torches and pitchforks to the castle to kill the monster.

Anonymous July 31, 2008, 10:33 AM

Does everyone here feel that they are a responsible parent? Are there parents out there, that possibly own dogs, who actually think they are not responsible? To which someone else may consider then irresponsible. We can all sit here and cast judgment on other parents because we feel we are the BESTEST parent, however not everyone thinks or knows the same information as everyone else. So to say that the Mothers are the irresponsible parties involved is a Big assumption. We all do the best we can, that’s all we can be expected to do.

renee July 31, 2008, 10:47 AM

any dog can be bad with children,it is up to the parent to “child proof” the dog when it is a puppy.the parents need to set up training and rules when both are young.

Debby July 31, 2008, 10:47 AM

I own a Shar-Pei and Lab mix breed, and while she is a well trained and a wonderful dog I do put her in her kennel when I receive visitors. Not because I do not trust her, but I do not trust the children to leave her be. Parents need to train their children to ask before going near a strange animal. Leaving a child unattended near any animal is asking for trouble.

Grandfather July 31, 2008, 11:01 AM

Cities must be the first provide a good set of dog ordinances that will protect the majority of the public when a dog is out in the public. The known’vicious breeds’ must be neutered or spayed to help control their aggression. When out in public dog owners must have them on city approved short leashes,harness, and a muzzle. The dog is not hurt by any of these items nor are humans.

Four people were attacked by one dog in Omaha Ne. The owner had followed the current city code: License, shots, be in control of your dog with a leash.
Nothing about neutering, or type of leash in the city dog ordinance.

The dog walked out of its leash (to loose). It walked up to the (2) mothers who had stopped walking knowing it was a pit bull. It looked all of them and then lunged at the 17 month olds chest. Yes the side the heart is on. The boys mother pushed him off her son as fast as she could and the dog bit her hand. The dog then being pushed away from the wagon ran back in and attacked my grand daughter and ripped her scalp off. The two children were strapped into the wagon as they should have been so they would not fall out. And that probably saved them from being dragged away. My daughter-in-law seeing the owner just stand there jumped on the dog to get him off her daughter. The other mother took the seat belts of the children and ran as she was directed by my daughter-in-law. The owner was told to take my grand daughter and run….She didn’t she just stood there. So my daughter-in law got up ran and got her child and ran to a house close. My daughter-in-law was bit in the neck just missing a major vain.

The city council men want to sleep on changing the ordinance. What do you think should happen?

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