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by Mike Masterson | May 27, 2023 at 2:57 a.m.

A study of emergency department records at two Level 1 trauma medical institutions in Arkansas during 2018 found frequent dog bite injuries inflicted on children across our state, causing significant suffering.

Titled "Characteristics of Dog Bites In Arkansas," the study reviewed records of cases at Arkansas Children's Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and explored associations between multiple variables at play when the bites occurred (the child's age, bite locations and severity of the bite as well a the breed involved).

Care to take a wild stab at guessing which breed inflicted the most maulings and bites on children? Those who said pit bulls earn my gold star.

"Of the 740 patient charts reviewed, 574 were for patients who presented to Arkansas Children's Hospital and 166 were for patients who presented to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences," the study reported. "Of the patients across both institutions, 267 (37.1 percent) required some form of repair, with 225 (30.4 percent) receiving closure within the emergency department and 42 (6.7 percent) requiring" an operation.

Bear in mind, valued readers, these 740 did not include the unknown number of children also treated for bites in the hospitals. clinics and physican's offices statewide, or all the bitten and mauled smaller pets and domestic animals cared for by veterinarians. But I digress ... well, sorta.

Among the bitten children seen by both Level 1 centers, those younger than age 5 were more than eight times as likely to require an operation and more than four times as likely to be bitten on the head and neck. Children older than 12 were more than three times as likely to be bitten on an extremity.

"The results of this retrospective review are aligned mostly with the general trends found in previous national and global studies, supporting the notion that family dogs represent a more significant threat than often is realized and that, among the breeds identified, pit bulls are proportionally linked with more severe bite injuries." the researchers wrote.

"Our data further validate previous studies that note an increased risk of bites and bite severity in children younger than 5 years. In addition, our data show that bites to the head and neck occurred more frequently among children younger than 5 years than among older children and boys younger than 5 years were bitten more frequently than girls."

I'm not surprised that naturally rambunctious children often get bitten by dogs, including family pets. I was taken aback that these medical facilities alone saw 740 cases.

I wish the severity and nature of the injuries had been broken down individually by breed, although it's obvious from the overall findings that pit bulls were responsible for the most serious injuries.

And for me it is further validation of the need for owners of larger dogs that can, and often do. inflict serious, even mortal injury to innocent people outside their owner's family to always keep them effectively restrained or face serious civil and criminal consequences.

Pet peeves

David Kelley writes, "Some of mine are people who simply cannot comprehend how to use a turn signal while driving. Those who don't understand one should park between the painted lines in a parking lot and not straddling them. Those who don't realize the beautiful simplicity of how a four-way stop sign functions.

Ira Samsom said his ongoing long-term peeve is the improper use of words to convey the fact that one doesn't care by saying "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less."

His latest and growing peeve is the elimination of the letter "T" when it's in the middle of a word. "Example: mountain being now pronounced "moun-ain" instead of mountain. National network news reporters are guilty. This may become No. 1 soon."

Other peeves reported are: "The constant and calculated stream of lies and half-truths coming out of Washington today that leave citizens uncertain of what to believe anymore."

"The legacy mainstream media that hypocritically holds only one political party accountable for its actions and even reporting those inaccurately with obvious bias while setting the other party free from similar scrutiny whatsoever. Awarding Pulitzer Prizes to major national newspapers for reporting revealed lies as supposed truth."

"People who carry on a conversation at normal volume in church and then when the music starts, instead of taking a hint and ending the conversation, they just up the volume and continue their conversation. On top of that, this is almost always adults who should know better."

"Those who clog the aisle of a store while carrying on a conversation."

"Drivers who are clearly looking down at a cell phone when a light turns green and they don't go. Double that irritation when it causes us to miss a turn signal!"

"Cashiers who stop to answer phones rather than tending to customers standing in front of them."

"The many online scams aimed at getting you to divulge private information the scammers use to their advantage."

"Slow trucks on two-lane highways whose drivers won't pull to the side and allow cars accumulating behind to pass them."

Thanks for sending your peeves. Feel free to send more if and when you have them.

Before the Bang?

My friend David Fitton regularly writes a popular and interesting blog called Sophie's Soapbox consisting of varied items of widespread interest. The other day he asked the following questions I doubt any human can adequately answer:

"What existed before the Big Bang? How is it possible for a singularity to be dense enough to contain all the matter in our Universe (not just the matter we know about, but also 'dark' matter)?

"What caused it to bang? Where was the singularity before it banged? How is it possible for the explosion to continue accelerating after over 13 billion years?

"Did time exist in another realm prior to the Big Bang? How can the size of our observable universe be larger, in terms of light years, than the amount of time it has existed?

"Do we really know what we don't know?"

To those questions I'll add one of my own: "How and why are we as living beings, some say evolved from cells originating from somewhere and winding up in primordial ooze millions of years ago, able to even conceive of the origins of the universe, or for that matter develop something as incredibly complicated as an eyeball?"

Losing a good one

Rusty Turner, the competent and steady man at the helm of news operations for this newspaper's Northwest and River Valley editions, is calling it quits after a long and most successful career.

We have known and respected each other since the mid-1990s when I came back home as editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville and he was competing daily with our efforts just up the road at the Springdale Morning News. Oh, and compete we did!

Rusty is one of the accomplished and thoughtful ones in this craft, and the paper will feel his loss, as will I. Godspeed, Rusty.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Print Headline: Bitten children


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