Bulldog Attacks Child, Leaves Lasting Injuries

Published on November 5, 2013

You may have heard the unfortunate news a few weeks ago about Gage Thornhill, the four-year-old Hollis boy who was brutally attacked by an American Bulldog. McIntyre Law P.C. is representing Gage in his suit against the dog’s owners.

The local news is reporting that Gage was riding his bike in an alley near his house when the dog broke through its chain and grabbed him off his bicycle. A group of strangers nearby helped to rescue Gage, but he still sustained horrifying injuries that may render him unable to ever walk again.

There are certain breeds that research has shown to be more likely to attack than are others, but any breed can attack. Sadly, our attorneys at McIntyre Law know this and other stories like it all too well. Approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur each year; between 2005 and 2009, 149 of those were fatal. Even worse, children are the victims of more than 50% of fatal dog bite incidents.

Tips for reducing the risk of dog bites

  • Before approaching any dog, regardless of how friendly or cute it looks, ask its owner if it’s okay to do so. Teach your children to do this, as well. Even some of the friendliest dogs are skittish around small children, so it’s a good idea to ask the owner if the dog is accustomed to children before you allow your kids to pet.
  • Don’t approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for puppies. Animals are more likely to bite if they’re startled, frightened or protecting their young.
  • If the owner gives permission to pet the dog, allow the dog to sniff your closed hand. Start by petting the dog’s back or chest before petting on the top of a dog’s head.
  • Don’t pet a dog behind a fence or in a car. They might feel territorial and need to protect their space.
  • Tell your child that if he sees an off-leash dog outside without its owner, he should tell an adult immediately. As well, if a loose dog comes near a child, he shouldn’t run or scream. Instead, avoid eye contact and stand very still. The animal will eventually lose interest and then the child can slowly back away.
  • If you or your child falls or is knocked over by a dog, curl into a ball in the fetal position and lock fingers behind your neck so as to protect the back of your neck and ears. If you or your child stay quiet and in this position, the dog will likely sniff and go away.
  • Don’t try to outrun a dog. If a dog attacks, “feed” it your jacket, bag, even a part of a bicycle – give it anything that the dog will grab onto in order to put space between you and the dog.

There are a few ways to tell by a dog’s body language that it may be feeling threatened:

  • Tensed body
  • Stiff tail
  • Head or ears pulled back
  • Furrowed brow
  • Eyes rolled with whites visible
  • Yawning or tongue-flicking
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away

If you see a dog exhibiting any of these behaviors, put space between you and the animal. Don’t turn your back and run because its instinct will be to chase you; rather, back away slowly and calmly.

The happy ending for little Gage is that he survived the attack. However, his journey to recovery is far from over. He will have scars and injuries that will be with him for the rest of his life, and he may never make a complete recovery. All of us at McIntyre Law P.C. are hoping and praying for Gage and his whole family as we work hard to recover the compensation that they deserve.

For more information on avoiding dog bites:
The Humane Society of the United States
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tags: Dog Bites

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Jeremy Thurman

Jeremy Thurman has been practicing law since 2002, and spent his first two years in practice with an insurance company defense firm. He joined McIntyre in 2004 and draws on his previous experience with insurance companies to represent plaintiffs in personal injury and mass tort cases. His primary areas of practice include auto negligence, medical malpractice, defective drugs, and nursing home negligence. Read more about Jeremy Thurman.

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