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Dr Carri Westgarth is MRC Population Health Scientist Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool’s School of Veterinary Science
“This is a tragic event and more research is needed into why dog bites occur and how to prevent them.
“When serious dog attacks occur, questions are often raised about what breed of dogs were involved, but we need to remember that all dogs have the potential to bite.
“There is no strong scientific evidence that any particular breed of dog is at a higher risk of biting. Most bites are thought to occur because a dog feels threatened in some way or sometimes the bite occurs when the dog is ‘playing’.
“Good training and socialisation is important for preventing the need to bite and puppies can also be taught ‘bite inhibition’ so that if they do feel the need to bite when they are older it should cause less damage.
“Children of any age should not be left unsupervised with dogs, especially ones that they do not know well, multiple dogs or large dogs. Unfortunately it is a common belief that ‘it could never happen to me’ and ‘my dog would not bite anyone’ and these perceptions are a barrier to dog bite prevention.”
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