A 26-year-old professional dog walker in Santa Monica was charged with child endangerment after a Staffordshire terrier bit a 4-year-old girl in the leg. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times. Police say Rebecca McGroerty was walking with the dog inside a home in the 2300 block of 23rd Street on October 19, 2013 when she was attacked. She had to get stitches to close up the wound on her leg. Officials said the dog’s owner had given the dog walker instructions to always have the animal muzzled and on a leash. At the time of the attack, the dog was not muzzled and off leash.
The owner had also warned McGroerty that the dog was afraid of and aggressive toward small children. The attack occurred inside the dog owner’s home after the girl had come inside. The girl did not live there. This incident comes in the wake of several high-profile dog attacks across Southern California in recent months. Just last month, Riverside County supervisors voted for an ordinance requiring pit bulls to be spayed or neutered in incorporated neighborhoods. In September, a 2-year-old Colton boy was mauled to death by several pit bull mixes. Also, a 63-year-old Antelope Valley woman was killed in May by a pack of pit bulls.
It is fortunate in this case that the child was not seriously injured. I wish her the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Children and Dog Attacks
Children are often victims of serious or fatal dog attacks, statistics show. Of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs annually, more than half are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.
Liability in Dog Bite Cases
In this particular case, the dog walker, in addition to facing criminal endangerment charges, can also be held civilly liable for the injuries caused to the child. According to officials, the dog owner had given precise instructions to the dog sitter with regard to this particular dog. Apparently, it had been hostile toward children prior to this incident. It was the dog walker’s responsibility at this time to make sure that the dog was kept muzzled, leashed and away from the child.
In cases where negligence is involved, injured dog bite victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, cost of reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.