Fatal Pit Bull Dog Mauling of Georgia Toddler Serves as Reminder of Risk Posed by Dangerous Dog Breeds
A tragic fatal dog mauling of a toddler in southeast Georgia serves as a reminder of the potential danger posed to small children by certain vicious breeds of dogs. The AP report indicates that the toddler slipped outside through a dog door and was fatally mauled by seven pit bull and pit bull mix dogs while adults inside the home remained unaware of the deadly dog attack. The toddler’s clothes were strewn across the yard evidencing the harrowing incident in which the dogs viciously dragged the girl around the backyard.
This incident reveals the importance of close supervision of small children around dogs even if they are trusted and have no history of violent behavior. Family members told the AP that the dogs routinely entered the house through the dog door and that the little girl often played and even slept with the dogs. The family also indicated that the dogs had never attacked anyone previous to this incident. Police investigators indicated the dogs appeared to be well cared for, and that there was no evidence the dogs were involved in dog fighting.
This tragic incident reveals the inherent danger presented by dogs because their behavior can be unpredictable. Although these particular dogs may not have previously exhibited violent propensities, it is not surprising that pit bulls would be involved in this fatal dog mauling incident. According to one dog bite victims’ advocacy group, pit bull type breeds of dog accounted for nearly sixty percent of all fatal dog mauling incidents in one study. During the three year study, the organization reports that on average a person was killed in a fatal attack involving a pit bull every three weeks. Over half the fatal dog attack victims were age eleven or under.
When a dog attacks a person and causes injury or wrongful death, the owner of the dog may be liable for the injuries sustained if the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious tendencies. This does not necessarily mean that a dog bite or mauling victim needs to establish that the dog has previously bitten someone. Other forms of aggressive behavior, such as lunging, charging or attempting to bite may also provide a reason to know of a dog’s violent propensities.
Dog owners may also be liable for Georgia dog attacks that occur because of negligence in handling a dog or failing to comply with local leash laws. These cases often turn on the specific facts of the case because the dog owner’s home insurance company will often claim that the dog only attacked because the dog was provoked. This defense is frequently used when the victim is a child who may be less aware of the danger posed by certain forms of behavior in the presence of a dog.
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