Dog Bite Death of Hustisford Boy Raises Questions for Wisconsin Pet Owners

The tragic death of a seven year-old boy bitten by the family’s pet Rottweiler raises questions for families who own guard dog breeds as family pets. According to, the family had recently moved to the area to open a “dog protection” business called Platinum K9 Protection. Though the facts and circumstances behind the dog attack are sketchy, a certified dog trainer interviewed for the story suggested that the dog may have been stressed, and the warning signs were missed until the dog’s behavior escalated, culminating in the deadly bite.

So what do owners of large breed dogs, especially those bred and trained for their protective instincts, need to know when they attempt to integrate such pets into a family with small children?

Children are especially vulnerable to dog attacks — according to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of dog bite injuries is highest for children five to nine years of age. Children are more likely to require medical assistance for a bite.

Data from 2013 shows that 56 percent of fatal dog bite victims were children seven years old and younger. Sixty-one percent of children killed were age four and under.

Rottweilers are the second most lethal breed of dog, after pit bulls. Together these two breeds accounted for 81 percent of dog bite fatalities in 2013.

Clearly, the combination of protection dogs and young children is potentially perilous. Many dogs are capable of being gentle with children and aggressive with strangers, but many others are not capable of flipping the switch from cuddly to combative. Moreover, mixed signals in a dog’s training can cause stress that makes a dog attack more likely.

Warning signs of stress in a dog include:

  • Lip and nose licking
  • Yawning
  • Panting
  • Pinned back ears
  • Tension in the face
  • Avoidance
  • Low tail carriage
  • Shaking

If your dog exhibits a number of these behaviors, you should consult a qualified trainer to find ways to reduce the animal’s stress level. If not, you could have to deal with the aftermath of a bite and a tragic injury to a child. To learn more, contact a Wisconsin personal injury attorney.

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