City officials are urging caution after seeing an increase in dogs biting children across Lincoln. 

Lincoln Animal Control Manager Steve Beal said 233 bites have been reported so far this year, compared to 398 bites in all of 2018. 

Beal said that children ages 10 and under represent the largest group of bite victims this year, with 39 incidents, and the same group accounts for 204 dog bites in Lincoln over the past two-and-a-half years.

Beal said any dog can and will bite under certain circumstances, and urged parents and caregivers to keep a watchful eye on children. 

Animal Control released some tips to help keep kids safe around pets:

  • Never leave a small child and a dog alone together, even if it is the family dog, a dog that is known to you, or a dog that you have been assured is well behaved.
  • Do not play or allow your child to play aggressive games with a dog, such as tug-of-war or wrestling.
  • Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog.
  • Let a dog sniff you or your child before petting the dog, and stay away from the face or tail.  Pet the dog gently, and avoid eye contact, particularly at first.
  • Never bother a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.  Dogs in these situations are more likely to respond aggressively, even with a person who is familiar to them.
  • Teach your child to move calmly and slowly around dogs.
  • Teach your child how to act if a dog is growling, barking or behaving in a threatening manner.  Children should remain calm, avoid eye contact with the dog and back away slowly until the dog loses interests and leaves.
  • If you or your child is knocked over by a dog, curl up in a ball and protect the eyes and face with arms and fists.

In Lincoln, dogs and cats are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies.  Animal Control investigates all reported dog bites and confirms the rabies vaccination status of dogs and cats. 

For more information on dog bites, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: animal control) or call 402-441-7900.