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 DogsBite.org, 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?