Home > Dog Behavior, Miscellaneous, Pet News, Pet Safety > 2 Akitas+2 Kids=Dog Bites – What Would You Do?

2 Akitas+2 Kids=Dog Bites – What Would You Do?

November 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last night our local TV station aired this story “Animal Control Investigates Burnsville Dog Attack” about two Akitas being investigated for biting two children (not the dog owner’s children). Immediately, I wondered about the circumstances. I can’t help it. Whenever I hear of a dog bite I wonder what really happened… what was the back story behind the bite, the dog’s bite history, the dog’s socialization, etc.

In this case, the children were visiting a family friend who was the owner of the Akitas. The kids were playing in the backyard with the Akitas, unaccompanied by an adult, when they were bit. The owner was clear – his dog never should have bitten her in any way, but he also wondered what the children might have done to cause it. He wants his dogs saved. The mother of the children said that her children “would never go up to a dog and aggravate it in any way”. She wants the dogs put down.

It seems like there is little information on either side of this story, since the only ones in the backyard with the dogs were the kids. No adults were even watching the dogs and kids when they were bit. So if you were Animal Control, what would you do?

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  1. Kristine
    November 14, 2010 at 7:01 AM

    Not sure why they left the dogs alone with the children. That seems pretty irresponsible. I guess it would depend on the laws in the city. Animal Control’s job isn’t easy that’s for sure.

    • Mel
      November 14, 2010 at 6:56 PM

      Thanks Kristine. I agree. ACC’s job isn’t easy in this case. City laws are to quarantine dogs until facts of the case can be determined. I think Burnsville may have a more holistic look at this than many cities, but we shall see. In Minneapolis, they’d probably be labeled a dangerous dog. We shall have to see what happens. I agree with you though. Why these children were left alone and unsupervised with any strange dogs is beyond me.

  2. K Johnson
    November 14, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    The kids were not unsupervised, there were 4 adults less than 5 feet away, it happened fast, by the time we all realized what happened it was done and over. Get your facts straight before spouting your mouths about bad parenting. We were being reassured by the owner that they were nice dogs. Apparently not.

    • Mel
      November 14, 2010 at 10:46 PM

      K – Thank you for adding clarifying facts to the story. First, in no way do I want to imply that this was a result of bad parenting. In my opinion, a dog owner is just as responsible for supervising any children playing with their dogs, if not more so, than the parents. As far as the “unsupervised” comments, you’re right. I should have my facts straight. It said that no one saw what happened and I assumed their was no one watching what happened because they were not in the yard. That was my mistake.

      Supervising children with dogs is so important. Whether these dogs are vicious is a matter of understanding what can trigger a dog to bite. If a dog has a high prey drive and small children are running around it may trigger them to give chase and bite, not because they are vicious, but because that is their breed. A child staring a dog in the eyes can also be seen as a threat by a dog. Hugging a dog is also a no-no. Most dogs hate to be hugged, although many will tolerate it. We as humans see it as cute and sweet, but it can be dangerous.

      I see both sides of this issue. As a parent it must be horrifying to see something like this happen. I am so sorry your children got bitten. It never should have happened. Since no one saw what happened, there is no way to know what caused it. To assume the dogs were vicious without knowing what the trigger was makes this a difficult situation. I should know. A neighbor’s dog was put down because I was bitten in the face as a child. Now that I know a lot more about dogs I know that I was the one who put the dog in an uncomfortable position. I stared at her directly in the eyes and hugged her. It might seem like the dog was still at fault in my situation too, and to some degree maybe so, but knowing what I know about dog behavior I now know that I played an integral role in that dog’s demise.

      Either way, the solution for the Akitas is a difficult one and no one wins either way because your kids were still bitten, nothing can change that, and the dog owner has to live with that, and the possible result, the death of his dogs. Either way, I don’t envy ACC for having to make a decision in this case.

  3. November 15, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Asian dog breeds like akitas, shar peis, chow chows and lhasa apsos DO NOT make good family pets. They do not tolerate the anitcs of small children and will usually get snappy if they are teased and provoked.

    Why two large dogs like these were allowed to play, unsupervised, with a 4 and 6 year old is beyond me. The bites didn’t look too severe in the video, but a bite is a bite. I don’t know what the ACC is going to do, the only witnesses are young children and their tesitmony will not be very reliable.

    • Mel
      November 15, 2010 at 1:57 AM

      I have to agree with you on both accounts. I would not have let these dogs play with children, just because of their breed, but all dogs have the potential to bite if provoked or put into a fight or flight situation, that’s why I hate it when people bring kids to the dog park. Given the right circumstances, a child or adult can be bitten by a dog. That’s the reality.

    • November 16, 2010 at 12:28 PM

      I think that painting a lot of breeds as “not good family pets” is unnecessarily stereotyping. Some of these breeds may *tend* towards higher dominance and aggression, but that does not mean that they cannot be good family pets with well trained, respectful children. The onus is on the parent to train the children in respectful, appropriate behaviour towards animals as it is on the dog owner to socialize and train their dog in respectful, appropriate behaviour towards humans.

      That being said, allowing two children, especially two small, strange children alone with two dogs was just stupid. The owner AND the parents should be kicking themselves for being so arrogant to believe that their dogs/children were paragons of virtue. They should both be ashamed of putting those in their guardianship into such a dangerous situation.

      • Mel
        November 16, 2010 at 6:04 PM

        Thank you for your comments. I agree that we should not be painting any breed with a broad brush. But, as you said, the onus is on the owner and the parent to ensure that the kids and dogs are either not together, or watched very closely. According to both sides (who seem to be airing all their laundry out on the news station website), the actual owner was not there and the person who told the father that the kids would be safe with the dogs was not someone who knew the dogs well and should not have been there at all. All the adults were in the yard, with the dogs and kids, but they did not see what happened. It sounds to me like a bunch of things went wrong here and I am not sure the parents or kids are to blame here given the misinformation given to them. But, the dogs are victims here too. They never should have been placed outside with strange children they did not know.

  4. November 15, 2010 at 6:50 AM

    You are right – lots of questions to ask and not many with clear answers. Do we even know the severity of the bite (like a nip or an attack?) or was only one dog doing the biting? I don’t know why a parent would ever leave their children with two large dogs – especially not their own dogs. Since the parent doesn’t realize the risk of doing so I doubt she knows what her kids might do to provoke a strange dog – canine perception of human body language – for example high pitched voices, and fast quick movements common with kids to dogs are extremely exciting – condusive of play turning into prey instints. 5 feet away is too far away – leashes absolute monitoring is the only way to prevent this sort of thing. too bad “blaming and vengence” are the goals now instead of education that might help and prevent another such situation. Everyone is hurting in this, aren’t they? yet no one wants to understand the other and take any blame themself. With this attitude there is no beneficial answer of any meaning. …. so the kids and dogs pay the price. Too bad

    • Mel
      November 15, 2010 at 6:20 PM

      Carolyn – I completely agree with all you said. The bites (at least what I saw on the video) were not severe, but still a scary situation for both kids. Based on the comments I am seeing on the story’s comments page, I think you are right about the “blaming and vengeance” and no one wanting to understand what happened. Based on what I have since read, the owner was up north hunting, his step-sister (who had not “right” to be there) was the one who kept reassuring the father that the dogs were great with kids. All this says to me is there was a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and uninformed information being exchanged here. Sadly, the other commenters are not helping the discussion by assigning blame instead of seeking to educate. I feel sorry for the kids and the dogs.

  5. misstootorder
    November 17, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    I can’t imagine how terrible it must have been for the father…his efforts to rescue his kids from the attack demonstrate his love, care and concern.

    No matter what the children were doing, that may or may not have sparked the attack, the dog owner made a very POOR choice when he assured, insisted, invited his young guests to play in an unsafe environment. Their father only allowed his children into the yard because the dog owner assured him they would be safe. I, like the father, would be upset, not with the dogs, but with the owner. Especially if the owner had conflicting information, (the previous attacks).

    The dog owner failed his animals and his guests. He should feel very very sad about what happened and try to offer some long term remedy, or a proactive solution that might demonstrate his efforts to make it right or learn and realize the error of his ways…If we heard him say something like:
    “I learned ___________from this terrible tragedy and realize my mistake. Going forward I will do _____________ so something like this will never happen again.
    I am changing/correcting/initiating/building ___________ to ensure ensure __________will never happen again.

    So I don’t know about the fate of the dogs. I read about Akitas suffering from some endocrine functional imbalances that are often undetected. The symptoms of such imbalances often include irritability, excitability and unusual unprovoked aggressive behavior. This health issue can be corrected with medicine. But if the owner can’t afford basic immunizations, this possibility is far from financially realistic and yields little, even if the bites resulted from a thyroid, hormonal imbalance.

    • Mel
      November 17, 2010 at 8:00 AM

      Misstootorder – I want to thank you for you thoughtful and quite informative comments. I agree a poor choice was made by the owner’s step-sister. Her poor judgement unleashed a lot of anger and sadness, and of course, the pain and injury of two little children. It was so unnecessary and could have been prevented. We are awaiting the fate of the Akitas. I hope they do not pay for the step-sister’s mistakes.

      I was not even aware that Akitas suffered from endocrine imbalances. I care for two Akita clients (who I adore!) and had never heard of this before, so I am VERY glad you shared this info! Thanks!

  6. misstootorder
    November 17, 2010 at 1:08 AM

    ahh…hopefully this is my last correction, I missed the dog owner/vacation thing.
    I think there are many important pieces of information missing or uneremphasized. Thanks for the clarification. This is a hard story.

    I faced a situation dogbite situation myself once. A local dog attacked my child while riding home from school. There was no teasing, the loose dog bolted and bit while my child biked along the path that passed in front of this dog’s house. I was more stressed than my child. There were marks, puncture wounds, and abrasions, lacerations that took some time to heal. I know my middle schooler was not teasing the dog. However, we didn’t order a dog killing.

    In fact it was my child(a gentle kind soul despite the flawed parent) who insisted…no mom.the dog escaped…if we turn this in to the animal control…they will kill him…I don’t want that to happen. The owners were really sorry… they love their pet…he’s really a cute little doggie… it was an accident… it would make them sad to lose their him…he just didn’t know me mom…it wouldn’t be fair….
    Per my daughter’s wishes, we just asked that they please, be aware of their risks… keep their less than mannerly little companion from biting others… because someone else may not be as understanding..someone might be hurt worse…this dog was little…far from the brute bite strength of an akita.

    • Mel
      November 17, 2010 at 8:03 AM

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s dog bite. I have been bitten twice in my life, both times as a child, and both as a result of actions I took unintentionally. Once was by a puppy, no fault of his own, and once as a girl about 10. It can be quite scary as I am sure your daughter would agree. Strange how both of us pleaded for the dog’s lives. Is she still an animal lover like me? I guess dogs are just in my blood! 🙂

  7. misstootorder
    November 17, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    What if the dog owner, and other Akita Owners adopted a proactive, careful approach to safety and dog education. If we initiate a careful, committed safety plan to match the seriousness and consideration in place by pool owners we might prevent future accidents and Akita euthanizations.

    Like the pool, the Akita affords a unique, special, desirable part of our homelife. Like the pool, the Akita isn’t for everyone. Like the pool, there are considerable costs for adequately care and containment.
    Both require unending time, energy, and money. Like the pool, the Akita can be hazzardous to outsiders and unattended children and guests; both should be inaccessible to nonowners and have several failsafe security measures in place.
    Like the pool, NO ONE should be given access to the akita’s area unless the resident owner is home unless he/she is carefully trained, versed and trustworthy.

    Maybe this sounds callous or silly to compare a companion animal with a swimming pool…but…I only use this because the two, in unskilled, uneducated inexperienced hands, present equally sad outcomes.

    I hate to see an Akita put down. After all, swimming pools are not filled in, drained, destroyed when someone, usually an unaccompanied, inexperienced, nonswimmer drowns. Because we know and understand the nature of swimming pools…we can install proactive safety measures,we make them off limits to outsiders. We build fences, gates and locks. We prohibit unaccompanied guests. We work hard to maintain a pool and prevent accidents.

    It seems like we must commit ourselves similarly to our akitas. Akitas should be off limits when we are gone. Housesitters, houseguests, boarders, room mates, cohabitants must all respct and adhere to this standard. Maybe this approach would ensure prevent outcomes like the one in this sad story from ever happening?

    We don’t fill in or destroy a pool when someone drowns. We increase our efforts to prevent access and future drownings. We educate the community, we build barriers, hire lifeguards. It would sound obsurd to call a pool ‘bad’ and order its destruction, elimination every time there is an accidental drowning. Similarly to the pool scenarios, our Akitas are not ‘bad’ either.

    The drowning and dogbite/dog attack both, bring avoidable tragedy that demands our attention, remediation and revisions so we can protect our property, pets, and people from harm’s way.

    • Mel
      November 17, 2010 at 8:08 AM

      I actually like your analogy a lot. The dangers involved with both are preventable, but teachable, moments. I really hope that the families see your thoughts on this and pass it on. Clearly this was one of those circumstances where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but the idea of viewing an Akita with the same respect and care as one must take when they have a swimming pool and kids in the neighborhood is a good one. Thank you for your comments!

  8. misstootorder
    May 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    Glad you liked the ramblings of my cluttered mind. I hope the children and the two Akitas are recovered, safe, sound and on the road to better experiences:)

  9. April 28, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I was victim of a Akita bite when I was 9 years old. I was left unsupervised on my uncle’s yard, playing with my cousin and my two brothers. My cousin wanted to put the dogs on the kennel, one was an Akita mix and the other one was a pure Akita named Tama. I saw the pure akita dog (a female) lying down close to a wall, I yelled and pointed to the kennel: “Tama, go to the kennel!”

    Then the dog simply got up, walked on my direction, bit me two times on the face and let me go. I was mortified, but the bite didn’t hurt (oh! adrenalin) and I was able to enter the house and warn my uncle. My uncle got me to the hospital where I received several stitches. I had wounds on my lip, under my eye and in my neck. The doctor was surprised that I didn’t have any really serious injuries. Seriously, he said “it almost got your jugular!”.

    My family reacted in the most stupid manner. My aunt, owner of the dog (of whom I am glad that is living in another city nowadays), accused me of having harmed it, pulling it’s tail. When in fact I was several meters away from it. My other aunts backed her up, defending a dog instead of a children. Way to go, “family”. I remember it vividly from this day, it hurts much more than the dog bite, vaccines and treatments. The “funny” part is. The dog was troubled, it was taking psychiatric medicines. It has already bitten a house maid on the arm once.

    My mom and dad should have sued the crazy bitch. No, not the dog, my aunt. The dog already died of old age.

    I healed fine and only have some faint scars today. I was traumatized at the time, of course, even a tiny pinscher would put me in a state of panic. But I overcame that and now I only fear large dogs. I never had another encounter with an Akita to know if I still have some strong trauma. But I really dislike the breed, I will never trust an Akita again.

    And all that is to say: NEVER LET KIDS AND DOGS UNSUPERVISED .

    • Mel
      April 29, 2013 at 6:23 AM

      Wow Chantal. I am so sorry. I was bitten twice as a child and in one case the owner took full responsibility (their dog had bitten before) and in the other the owner did not, but my mother and father supported me. The fact that your aunt knew the Akita had bitten someone already and was on meds should have been enough tp kennel the dog before you even arrived. Ugh! How awful. Yes. Kids and dogs should not be left unsupervised.

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