Virginia: Dogs that bit five-year-old child were Belgian malinois

Virginia: Dogs that bit five-year-old child were Belgian malinois

WAVY 10 news reported this Sunday that a dog attack in Chesapeake, Virginia left a five-year-old girl with a bite on her neck that required an airlift to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.  The girl later underwent surgery at CHKD.  According to WAVY, the child and her mother were visiting with friends at the home where the bite happened.  The girl was playing with the dogs prior to the attack.

Animal control has the dogs, two Belgian malinois, at this time, and police are still investigating the incident.

Neighbor’s kids at your house?  Be safe: put the dogs away!

As a lawyer, protection dog trainer and owner of two Belgian malinois of my own, several things come to mind.  First, I am very grateful that the young girl is alive, and I hope that she has no permanent injuries.  Second, I would not let a five-year-old play with one, let alone two, Belgian malinois.  My rule of thumb for any dog owner is: when the neighbor’s kid comes over, put the dog in a crate temporarily with plenty of food, water, and a toy or two.

Any dog breed can bite or attack

Third, this incident raises the issue of who should own a Belgian malinois, German shepherd, or other working dog breed.  It is true that any dog, of any breed, can bite or cause injury, and I do not favor any breed-specific legislation.  I would urge a prospective Belgian malinois or German shepherd owner to consider if another breed might be more appropriate for their family.  Are you willing to learn about dog behavior, the competing drives involved, and methods of changing and correcting some behaviors?  If it turns out that you can’t control the dog, would you be willing to find an appropriate new home for it?

Owners of any dogs should have substantial liability insurance without a canine exclusion

If a prospective Belgian malinois or other working dog owner decides “this is for me,” make sure to be safe.  Be fair to the dog and to the people around you.  Make obedience training fun for the animal, a way to bond.  Have a competitive outlet for the dog, like Schutzhund, agility training, or dock dogs.  Use common sense and know your animal (I always muzzle my large male Belgian malinois when I jog with him as an extra precaution).  And finally, make sure your homeowners or renters insurance policy is large and does not exclude incidents relating to your dog.

If you are a loved one is injured by some else’s dog, contact Virginia dog bite lawyer Ed Atkinson to get justice.