Sunday, January 24, 2010


I just viewed a disturbing video on the internet related to "Baby makes friends with Boxer".  Although it is cute and innocent, this is the sort of thing that can quickly turn into a nightmare for the baby, the parents and the dog. The typical sernario: cute baby playing with loving family dog; dog snaps and bites face of baby; hysterical parents bring baby to emergency room; after waiting for 7 hours to be seen, E.R. doctor evaluates and then tries to get a plastic surgeon to come in (most plastic surgeons have stop taking E.R. call because of liability issues); plastic surgeon who is willing to come in is finally located and arrives and prepares to take the child to the O.R. for extensive repair of facial injuries (sometimes, these injuries can involve not only soft tissue injuries with significant tissue loss, but also vital structures to include the facial nerve, eyes, nose, mouth, etc to include underlying bone);  baby is given a general anesthesia and wounds are extensively cleaned to try to prevent infection; after several hours, injuries are repaired; parents are counseled and usually very appreciative - but the conversation usually involves the following statement: "But doctor, our child will not have any scarring, will she??  Not only will this child have permanent scarring, but will probably need several scar revisions in the future.  The parents now suffer life long guilt, the beautiful young baby grows up with facial scarring and possible even facial deformity, and the loving family dog is either given away or put to sleep!  Over the last 30 years of covering the emergency room, I have seen this sernario play out numerous times, and taken care of hundreds of serious dog bite injuries to the face and body in both adults and children.  The presentation in many of these:  "But Doctor, this was the friendly family dog that would not bite anyone."  Especially when children are involved, a "friendly" dog can take a chunk out of the face in a heartbeat. Never, Never, I repeat, Never let your children get their face up close and personal with a dog. Another thing that I have observed over the years is the adult who has been drinking alcohol and then starts playing with the dog. For some reason, dogs don't like the "alcohol breath" in their face and will react with an attack on even the most loving owner. Before those dog lovers out there accuse me of being "anti-dog" and report me to the "dog police", I love dogs and I have had many dogs in the past. Although dogs are our "best friends", simple precautions can prevent a major calamity!