Q. My son was at a friend's home when he was bitten on the arm by their dog. The family refuses to get rid of the pet, saying it can be trained not to bite. What moral obligation do I have to alert other parents so they can decide whether to expose their kids to this particular animal?
A.You should let other parents know what happened, say Roy Gross, chief executive director of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Gary Rogers, spokesman for the Nassau County SPCA. "Not telling anybody and then having a child disfigured because you didn't want to say anything is not the way to go," Rogers says.
Suffolk County's SPCA maintains a dog-bite registry; report a bite to the police, and they will forward the report, Gross says. If you desire, you can begin a process under the county's Dangerous Dog Law to have a judge rule on what restrictions should be imposed to control or even euthanize the dog, Gross says.
A municipal animal shelter or animal control department can walk a victim through that process, he says. You also can report the bite to the county's department of epidemiology and disease control, which will check to make sure the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
If you're a Nassau County resident, you should report the incident to Nassau County's Department of Health, Rogers says. Rogers says he hopes to start a dog bite registry in Nassau County in the future.