Leashed or not, dogs can be tempting to approach when they wag their tails as you walk by. But know that the dog’s mood can change in an instant, going from potential friend to dangerous foe. Dogs may bite for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Protecting a “pack member” like their owner
- Informing you not to cross into their territory
- Feeling threatened or scared
Dogs can even break the skin if they are just playing around. A dog bite can happen quickly, but you can learn the signs to avoid a bite.
How You Can Avoid Being Bitten by a Dog
It is possible for you to avoid a dog bite if faced with an aggressive dog. There may be an occasion for you to be near a dog or dogs, especially if you like to be outside. You might be in your neighborhood on someone else’s property or in the park where leash laws should be in play.
If you’re approached by a dog, whether it appears hostile or not, do not try to connect with it. This means don’t make eye contact and don’t stick out your hand for it to smell. Try not to acknowledge the animal. Allow the owner to do that if nearby. If not, feel free to use an authoritative voice. Don’t scream or sound fearful, be firm and loud and give commands the dog may know, like “Stop!” or “Heel!”
Be prepared to defend yourself physically. Size up the animal that is approaching you. If you match up, don’t be afraid to strike first if it starts to attack. You will have to shake the idea that this is animal abuse. You are protecting yourself. If the dog is too big, assume the protective position on the ground. Cover your head, bring your knees up.
When it's safely possible, attempt to get the name of the owner, or the party responsible for the dog – which could possibly be a friend taking care of it, or a dog walker. Who was responsible at the time may make a difference if you need to pursue a legal course.
What to Do if a Dog Bites You
If you couldn’t avoid a dog bite, you need to take some immediate steps:
- Clean, disinfect and bandage the wound. You should do this even if it is small.
- For a large bite that bleeds for longer than five minutes, seek immediate medical attention.
- For anything worse, call an ambulance.
After you’ve taken care of yourself, you need to address the situation with the animal. If the animal is a stray, you can call animal control.
If you know who owns the dog, get proof of a rabies vaccination from them. You may need to call animal control if the owner is not available. The dog could be dangerous to other people if the owner is not controlling the animal.
A doctor’s visit, possibly with a rabies shot, will cost money. You will want to get the responsible party to pay for your care, especially if a more serious injury has occurred. Most of the time, you’ll be trying to get money from an insurance company, so don’t worry about hurting the feelings – or wallet – of your friend or neighbor.
Document the circumstances of the dog bite. You need to write down who, what, when, where and how to the best of your recollection. Additional details about the incident can also help with the questions about liability, and extent of injury.
Our attorneys have handled multiple million-dollar cases for dog bites, and know how to win. If you need help with the next steps of your dog bite case, call us now at 800-U-NEED-US or 800-863-3387 to speak with one of our attorneys.