Dog bites are a traumatic experience; there is nothing that can describe the feeling one has when they are at the losing end of a dog attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with almost 1 in 5 (over 885,000) of those bites requiring medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to emergency rooms across the country each year. Those that are most at risk, other than the proverbial mail man, are young children and the elderly.
Protecting yourself from a dog bite should be a priority for those that are in environments where dogs are prevalent. Even using all prevention methods available, not all bites can be stopped. However, these are a start. Being aware of your surroundings when you are out enjoying the weather in locations such as parks, neighborhoods and even your own back yard. We have seen dog attacks take place in each of these locations by animals that were completely unknown to the victims. We have also seen dog attacks take place by dogs that seemed friendly. No one knows when a dog is likely to attack, some point to specific breeds, others point to specific owners, but in the end, when the dog does bite, it can be painful and long lasting for the victim. Some dog attacks even lead to fatalities.
The good news, according to many experts, is that bites can be reduced through public education. The Humane Society recommends the following tips to avoid getting bit:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one that is confined or tied up in some manner.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy or near puppies.
- Always assume that a dog does not know you and will see you as a threat.
- Take notice of the dog’s body language, if the dog is tense, or showing discomfort in some other manner, stay clear.
- Do not run, scream or turn your back on a dog you think is ready to attack.
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult
Although, these are only a few suggestions, it is most important to never approach an unknown animal without first getting permission from the owner and allowing the dog to sniff your hand.
If you are attacked by a dog, it is important to get medical attention immediately. You can never be too cautious when it comes to the extent of the wound or if the dog is properly vaccinated. After you have received appropriate medical attention, it is then important to contact local law enforcement to report the incident. You should also contact the local animal control agency as they may need to take control of the animal for further evaluation. It might also be good to get in touch with any witnesses to get their contact information as you may need their statements at a later time.
While West Virginia law makes owners responsible for injuries caused by dogs running at large, prevention is always the best medicine. If you or a family member is a victim of a dog attack, you may need legal advice. The Miley Legal Group has extensive experience in dealing with the injuries caused by animals and identifying who is responsible for paying for your medical bills and any other compensation you deserve.
Sources: CDC.gov; Humanesociety.org