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New family dog bites 20-month-old girl on face, experts give advice to avoid similar accidents

READ MORE: New family dog bites 20-month-old girl on face, experts give advice to avoid similar accidents
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A 20-month-old girl is in the hospital after being bitten by a family dog in Wilmington. New Hanover County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer says the girl had surgery for major lacerations to her face.

Wilmington Police Department spokesman Det. Kevin Smith says it happened at 218 Southgate Road.

New Hanover County Animal Control Services has the dog, a boxer, in custody. Brewer says the family adopted the dog earlier this week from an elderly woman, but there was no indication the dog had any history of aggression upon adoption. Brewer says the child's mother expressed some concerns recently about the dog, though.

Brewer says the dog will be quarantined for ten days. After that point, the owner can claim it. If not, the dog will be euthanized.

WWAY has learned that the mother of the child had called several rescue services Thursday, trying to get the family's adopted boxer picked up because of aggressive behavior. Though advised to board the dog herself, it was too late. The dog attacked her daughter. Fortunately though, there are precautions you can take to avoid this from happening in your family.

Doctor Meghan Tayloe, a veterinarian at the Highsmith Animal Hospital in Wilmington, says before adopting a dog, there are several things to consider. Researching the dog's breed, upbringing and personality are all very important. She also suggests bringing in the entire family and other pets to see how the dog interacts with them.

“Even if you need to leave the dog on the leash in the beginning to have some control over it, and I mean a short leash, a six foot leash, not a retractable leash,” Tayloe says.

Once in the home, Diane Gallagher of Dog Train, says establishing control and rewarding good habits is key when the dog is interacting with a child.

“We want to reinforce good responses. Introducing the baby, here's the baby, here's a piece of cheese or have a piece of liver treat,” Gallagher says. “So the dog thinks ‘baby cool, I get extra treats for this.'"

Gallagher says it is important to bring the dog into the room the child is in, as apposed to bringing the child into a room the dog is in. This ensures the dog will not feel threatened by the child encroaching on its territory. Doctor Tayloe says you can never be too sure what a dog thinks of a child.

“They're small like prey can be, unfortunately,” she says. “A lot of times children can be more demonstrative than adults can be. I mean, they certainly put them on edge, I mean they grab them and they want to touch them.”

Gallagher says if you decide on adopting a rescue dog, training is imperative.

“The first thing people need to do when the get a rescue dog is investigate training because you lay out the foundation for how you want to live,” Gallagher says. “That's how you create a relationship, that's how you create a language of learning with the dog and without that you got nothing.”

She advises prospective dog owners not to adopt until children are at least five years old.

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