Dog Bites: What You Need to Know

Dog BIte

Dog bites occur approximately 4.5 million times in the United States each year.   Of those dog bites, nearly 1 in every 5 becomes infected.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers tips to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Dos and Don’ts to Help Prevent Dog Bites

The CDC suggests three “dos” to help prevent dog bites.

  • Dogs behaving strangely or stray dogs should be immediately reported to authorities.
  • Don’t move when approached by a dog you don’t know. (Specifically, the CDC advises “Be still like a tree.”)
  • If a dog jumps on you or knocks you over, curl up into a ball. Tuck your head into your chest.  Place your hands over your ears and neck.

The CDC also offers some common sense “don’ts” to help prevent dog bites. Behavior to avoid includes:

  • Approaching a dog you don’t know
  • Running from a dog
  • Panicking
  • Making loud noises
  • Petting a dog who can’t see you approach
  • Petting a dog without allowing him or her to sniff you first
  • Disturbing a dog who is sleeping
  • Coming between a dog and her puppies
  • Interrupting a dog who is eating
  • Allowing small children to play unsupervised with any dog
  • Encouraging aggressive play with your own dog

If You Do Get Attacked or Bitten by a Dog

Sometimes, despite exercising all due care, people get attacked or bitten by a dog.  The CDC offers some suggestions if you think a dog is about to attack or bite.

If a Dog Attacks

  • If a dog is approaching in a menacing manner, use whatever you have to protect yourself by putting an object between you and the dog. This could be a purse, your backpack, or even a jacket.
  • If the dog knocks you down, tuck yourself into a ball to protect yourself. Cover your ears.

If a Dog Bites

Wash dog bites as soon as practicable. Use soap and water and seek medical attention.  Medical attention is particularly important if:

  • The wound is bleeding uncontrollably, you are in extreme pain, or you can see muscle or bone
  • If the wound appears swollen, red, warm, or painful
  • A fever develops
  • If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last five years

You should also be sure to:

  • Apply pressure to stop bleeding
  • Contact your local animal control agency or police department if you have any concern about rabies, especially if:
    • The dog is acting strangely
    • The dog appears sick
    • You don’t know whether or when the dog received a vaccination against rabies

Understanding Populations “At Risk”

The population most at risk for dog bites, perhaps not surprisingly, is children.  It also appears children’s dog bites are more serious, as they are more likely to receive medical attention for their dog bites than adults.  Amongst children, those between the ages of 5 and 9 are the most likely to be a bit.

All dogs have the potential for biting, and all people have the potential for being bit, given the right circumstances.  Taking care to avoid dangerous behavior can help, but doesn’t guarantee safety.

If You Experience a Dog Bite

If you experience a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the facts of your case.  At Rosner Law Offices, P.C., there is no fee to talk about what happened in your dog bite case.  Contact us for a free consultation and to discuss your options going forward.  We can be reached at (856) 502-1655.

Additional Reading

Dog Bites, Pit Bulls, and Breed-Specific Legislation

What Not to Do When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

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