Kids and animals are a natural combination. Often they seem to have a common bond of instant love, and enjoy every moment together. No occasion is happier than when a child meets a new puppy or kitten.
However, there are dangers that are present in all contacts between humans and animals. Even the little puppy or kitten can playfully scratch or bite the child, causing a wound resulting in an infection that requires medical attention.
There are simple rules of safety children and parents must consider when they are in contact with animals. Some common sense tips could avoid potential injury to children.
1. A child should never approach a stray dog or cat, nor any normally wild animal encountered on the street or around home. This includes rats, mice, squirrels, gophers, moles, coyotes and large birds.
2. A child shouldn’t approach close to a strange pet dog or cat. Stay a safe distance away until the animal is leashed or restrained by the owner. If the animal approaches the child in a friendly way, gentle petting may be safe. However, the child should always keep hands away from the animal’s eyes and mouth.
3. In any situation when an animal angrily shows its teeth, is growling or barking loudly, including the family pet, keep the child at a safe distance.
4. A child who rides horses, donkeys or ponies should always wear a helmet to prevent head injury in case of a sudden fall.
5. While visiting the zoo, the family must observe all the safety rules. When observing caged animals, children are required to stay behind railings and must never attempt to pass the railings to touch the fence. In petting zoos, parents should keep close watch on children as they move freely among small animals, and be ready to help if the child falls or is panicked by the animals.
6. Children should be taught to respect the rights of animals, and never try to hurt them. This includes family pets, who may bite or scratch to defend themselves when a child is causing them pain.
7. There are times when even the most domesticated animals and family pets may become suddenly violent and cause injury to an inquisitive child. This can occur when the animal has been injured in an accident, such as being hit by a car. It can also happen when a child approaches a new mother cat or dog, where there’s potentially violent instinct to protect their young.
When young kids face potential injuries in encounters with animals, some common-sense safety precautions by parents can prevent them from happening.