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Responsible ownership may prevent many dog bites

Children love dogs. For many children, saying the word "dog" and imitating its sound are among the earliest accomplishments of communication. However, living dogs are not the same as stuffed animals, and careful parents teach their children how to behave to avoid upsetting or aggravating a canine. Unfortunately, not every dog owner undertakes the same kind of training for his or her animals, and your child may have paid the terrible price for a dog owner's negligence.

While a dog can be unpredictable, the more care, training and affectionate attention a dog receives, the less likely it will become aggressive. Millions of dog bites occur each year, and hundreds of thousands of those require medical attention. Your child may have suffered an injury that required stitches, broke bones, tore ligaments or left disfiguring scars. You have a right to know your options in this situation.

Obligations of a dog owner

A dog doesn't bite without reason, but it isn't always easy to figure out the reason. In most cases, the dog feels threatened or is defending its territory. Dogs that have irresponsible owners may feel threatened more easily. The dog that bit your child may have had an owner who did any of the following:

  • Failed to train the dog to follow basic commands
  • Secluded the dog without a chance to socialize with people and other dogs
  • Allowed the dog to roam free without a leash or supervision
  • Neglected to introduce the dog to a variety of stressors from an early age to desensitize it to noise and other confusing factors
  • Did not learn the dog's stress level or warning signs so he or she could remove the dog when it showed signs of tension
  • Physically abused the dog or disciplined the dog with negative reinforcement
  • Ignored signs that the dog was aggressive by nature

Responsible owners will also have their dogs' vaccinations up to date to avoid passing along serious or deadly illnesses and infections if the dogs should bite.

Of course, it may not be a stranger's dog who bites, but Ohio law holds dog owners strictly liable for any injuries their dogs cause. Nevertheless, there may be mitigating circumstances that the dog's owner will use as a defense. The laws related to dog bites are complex, and you would benefit from the advocacy of a skilled legal professional as you seek compensation for your child's injuries.

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