Approximately 4.7 million dog bite accidents occur each year, most involving children under the age of 14. In some cases, dog bite injuries are very serious and require emergency treatment or surgery.
Dogs react to a person’s gestures and body language. If he isn’t used to you or your behavior, he may think that you’re a threat. It’s important for adults and children to learn the basic manners to use around dogs, especially unfamiliar ones.
Basic dog manners:
- Never, ever approach an unknown dog.
- Never tease a dog, pull his tail or ears.
- Always ask the owner if it’s okay to touch or pet their dog.
- Let a dog see and sniff you before you touch him.
- Respect a dog’s space and never crowd him.
- Never, ever bother a dog while he’s eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
- Never take a toy or bone away from a dog.
- Never give a dog a treat with your fingers. Use an open palm.
What to do if approached by an angry dog:
- Stay calm and try not to scream.
- Stand still, hands at your side, head turned away. Or turn your back to the dog and stand still. When the dog loses his interest, back away slowly. Do not run.
- Don’t look him directly in his eyes.
- If a dog tries to attack and bite you, put anything you can between you and the dog; a jacket, purse, book bag, bike, etc.
- If knocked over, roll into a ball, cover your ears and face. Try to lie still and not roll around. Flailing around will make a dog think you are fighting back which will make him attack even harder.
What to after a dog bite:
Administer First Aid
Determine the required level of medical attention. If the situation is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. If the bite broke the skin, be sure to clean it thoroughly and seek medical attention for antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the lacerations, you may also need stitches. Be sure to follow all instructions provided by your doctors.
Get a Copy of the Rabies Certificate
If you know the dog, or the owner is present, ask the owner to provide a copy of the dog’s rabies certificate. If you are unable to secure a copy of the rabies certificate, you may need to seek treatment. If the dog is running loose or is unfamiliar to you, call animal control immediately.
Gather Information from Witnesses
Ask anyone who saw the incident for his or her name and contact information. This should also include information from whoever was responsible for the dog at the time of the bite if it is not someone you know.
Document the Incident
Should you choose to file a lawsuit later, you will want visual proof of the injuries you suffered. Be sure to take pictures of the bite-related injuries as soon as you are able and as the injuries progress and heal. Retain any property damaged during the incident (for example, ripped clothing.) Shortly after the event, write down how the incident happened from beginning to end. If you have not done so previously, report the incident to animal control.
Contact an Attorney
You may be entitled to compensation for injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering. An attorney knowledgeable in dog bite law can help you understand your options and guide you through the process should you choose to pursue legal recourse. Contact us for a free consultation.