Animal House: Pet Safety Tips for Kids

by Evette Dionne

Dogs & KidsI hail from an immediate family of animal lovers. My brother and I were raised with a hedgehog, a Quaker parrot, a parakeet and now a 13-pound Chihuahua-Terrier pup my parents refer to as their son. Though we lived in an animal house, my parents were rarely concerned with our safety.

A family in Fulton County, Georgia isn’t as fortunate. A two-year-old child, identified as Beau Rutledge, was mauled to death by his family’s pit bull Wednesday afternoon.

Police and animal control authorities told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Rutledge was in his townhome with his mother when the attack occurred. The dog attacked Rutledge when his mother went to the restroom.

“She advised it happened fast,” Fulton County Detective Melissa Parker said. “It was an obvious death once the mother came out of the restroom.”

One of the neighbors, Joseph Messam, heard the child’s mother screaming.

“The dog killed the baby! The dog killed the baby.’ That’s what I heard her say,” Messam told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The family owned the dog for eight years and obviously felt safe enough to leave the child in the pit’s presence. Pet safety is imperative when there are children present in the home. It is literally a matter of life-and-death.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers several general rules for families interested in owning pets, specifically dogs:

  • Teach your child how to protect himself from an overexcited pet by demonstrating the basics of dog bite prevention, such as rolling into a ball, protecting hands and face and calling for help, rather than running or screaming if he’s chased by a dog.
  • Teach your dog to respond to the word “Stop” and encourage your child to practice using that word when appropriate.
  • Don’t let your child’s friends bring their pets into your home without adult supervision.
  • Teach your child to leave your pet alone when she retreats to a bed or crate that you’ve designated as a pet’s “safe spot.”

Chime in Clutchettes. What other pet safety tips would you offer?

  • Natasha Long

    I just don’t understand why people intentionally leave children alone in the same room with any animal. Whether it be a pit bull or a chihuahua. All dogs are dangerous. I own a pitbull, had him since birth, and I have a 1 year old son. I would NEVER leave my son alone in a room with the dog, who lives outdoors. My dog has never shown any signs of aggression or jealousy, but i will never be careless and leave the dog (cat) alone with my child.

  • JS

    It really just depends on the breed, how you raise it and getting the animal from a reputable breeder so you know the bloodline has been properly domesticated. I have a pekingese and I would trust this dog alone with any of my children, if I had any. He is an indoor dog and has a very passive personality. You can take food right out of his mouth and he won’t bite you or even growl at you (I’ve done it plenty of times). When he gets scared or frightened his reaction isn’t to nip or bite it is to run away or curl into a ball (people and other animals included).

    It is important that people take time to train their animals and understand the nature of the animal they have. There is NO WAY they had the dog for 8 years and couldn’t have seen any of its aggressive traits. It said in the article as well it was an outdoor dog, outdoor dogs are going to react differently than indoor dogs to things as they have to protect themselves from any raccoon, opossums, any threat etc, that come into the yard. This was a case of negligence and a person who did not understand their animal.

  • talaktochoba

    what about not trying to domesticate animals that have been bred for fighting and killing for over 300 years like pit bulls have been?

    what next, teaching your child how to pet sharks on their backs in your aquarium?

    when will people realise pit bulls are four-pawed sharks and that is all they ever can be?

    i hope that mother is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, because that is the only way to stop her kind of epidemic stupidity;

  • http://gravatar.com/womanistmusings4825 Renee Martin

    you’re absolutely right. How many times must people be attacked by pit bulls to get a clue. These dogs are not docile and most certainly should not be family pets, let alone in families that children. If you have a child, it’s important to think about the breed of the dog and their natures before getting a pet. We have a sheppard/lab cross and their natures make them ideal pets. My 7 yr old can order her to sit and she obey instantly. Good nature and bred to be good with kids makes her the perfect match..

  • http://verityreign.com Verity Reign

    OMG! This is so sad, such a tragedy. I feel so bad for the mother because she’ll probably feel responsible for her child’s death and carry that guilt around for a long time, if not the rest of her life. I don’t want to cast judgment on her and the decision she made because I’m sure if she really thought such an outcome was capable, she would have not done it. All in all, it’s a lesson regarding children and pets to other people though. I’m going to pray for her and her family.

  • talaktochoba

    would you give your toddler a live grenade?

    even where you in the same room, what do you think you could possibly do once Junior pulls the pin?

    animals like pit bulls are even less stable, bred for centuries to kill and not stop even after killing, without giving any warning;

    once the attack begins, what do you think you can do to stop it in time to save your child?

    your pit bull has long ago sized up when and where to attack your child, and is only waiting for the right moment to execute–yes, EXECUTE–what it’s instincts require, now matter how much you THINK you’ve “domesticated” it;

    you’re not a parent, you’re a butcher about to serve raw meat to a killer;

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