Dog bites are one of the most common injuries in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 885,000 people require medical attention each year after being bitten by dogs.
Avoiding Dog Bites
While dog owners obviously have a responsibility to do what they can to prevent their pets from engaging in violent behavior, here are some safety tips that anyone can use to avoid being bitten.
- The Humane Society advises never approaching an unfamiliar dog. They also urge anyone who pets a dog – even their own dog – to let the dog see and sniff them beforehand.
- There are signals that a dog may feel threatened, aggressive, or otherwise prone to biting. These signals include furrowing their brow, rolling their eyes back, pulling their head back, pulling their ears back, keeping their tail stiff and/or keeping their body tense.
- Be aware that dogs of all sizes and breeds are capable of biting.
- If you see a dog behind a fence, keep your fingers away from the fence.
- If you are approached in a public place by a dog that is unleashed, do not run away from the dog, and do not make loud noises, such as screaming. Keep your hands at your sides. Avoid making eye contact with the dog.
- If a dog jumps up on you, try to keep your back to the dog, and try to keep your face away from the dog. Stay as calm as possible. If there is an object nearby that you can hold in front of you as a shield, hold it against your body. Do not try to push the dog away with it.
It is especially important to teach dog safety to children. Children between the ages of five and nine are at a higher risk for dog bite injuries than any other age group.
Some of the most important pieces of information for children to know are:
- Do not play with a dog if you are not with an adult;
- Always ask a dog’s owner for permission before you pet it;
- Be cautious around a mother dog who is with her puppies;
- Never tease dogs;
- Do not touch a dog while the dog is sleeping or eating; and
- Tell an adult if you see a dog off its leash.
What to do After You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should wash your wound with soap and warm water, and contact a physician.
Dog bite victims are often reluctant to notify authorities about what has happened, because they are concerned that the dog will be euthanized. However, reporting a dog bite does not automatically mean that the dog will be put down. In the state of New York, judges and justices are only permitted to order a dog euthanized if the dog has caused serious physical injury or death to a person without justification, or if the dog has a history of violent behavior.
Many dog bites require considerable medical attention, and painful periods of recovery. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, it is important that you know your rights before agreeing to a settlement. Paul Giannetti is a lawyer in Albany with years of experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases. You can call the office at (518) 243-8011, or you can reach out through the website and schedule a free consultation today.