According to national statistics, almost half of all American households have at least one dog. Although many of these furry friends are friendly and loving pets, there are still almost 4.5 million people who are victims of dog bites every year. About 800,000 of those victims need medical attention for their injuries. Half of those victims are children.
How can you prevent becoming a dog bite victim?
There are many reasons why a dog will bite, most of them associated with the dog feeling threatened. Keeping that in mind, it is important to follow these tips:
- Learn dog behavior: There are certain signs a dog will often give that indicates they may attack. If a dog puts their ears back, begins cowering, puts their tails between their legs, or bares their teeth, they are letting you know they are feeling frightened, stressed, or threatened.
- Avoiding situations: There are certain situations that make a dog more likely to react and bite, such as if they are eating, sleeping, injured, or sick. A dog may also react if they playing with a toy and feel possessive, just as a female dog may react if they are protecting their puppies. If a dog begins barking or growling, that’s an indicator to avoid entering that dog’s space.
Throughout Virginia, there are numerous parks, restaurants, shopping plazas, and other venues that are friendly to four-legged companions. While being able to take your dog with you on outings plenty of advantages, it also comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Individual pet owners are responsible for their dogs' behavior and can be held accountable when dog bites resulting in serious personal injuries occur. The following provides tips on how to protect yourself when encountering a dog, either with the owner or unattended, as well as what to do in the event a bite or attack occurs.
Protecting Yourself Against an Attack
If you see a dog unleashed, regardless of whether the owner is nearby, it is important to use caution to protect yourself against a bite or attack. The signs that a dog may act out aggressively are often unmistakable, and include crouching or standing perfectly still, with the ears and tail down while growling or baring their teeth. If you encounter an unleashed dog or one otherwise behaving in this manner, do the following to protect yourself:
- Stay calm and resist the urge to run, which will likely cause the dog to chase you.
- Avoid screaming or yelling, which could cause them to charge.
- Slowly back away, while avoiding direct eye contact with the dog.
- Keep your handbag, backpack, or jacket in front of you, which can be used to deflect bites in the event the dog does attack.
Remember that even an otherwise friendly dog or one that you are familiar with can turn vicious if it is hurt, scared, or hungry. Use caution as well when approaching dogs on leashes in public places. Always approach slowly and ask the owner before attempting to pet or otherwise engage with the animal.
What to Do if a Dog Bite Occurs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one out of every five dog bites is severe enough as to require immediate medical attention. Dog bites can cause wounds that tear at muscles and tendons and have the potential to leave you with permanent scarring and impairments. Contrary to common myths, a dog’s mouth does harbor numerous bacteria, and a bite can result in serious and potentially life-threatening infections. Always report a dog bite immediately to animal control and notify the police so that an accident report can be filed.
Contact a Virginia Dog Bite Attorney for Assistance
If you or a family member have sustained injuries from a dog, contact Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what legal options you may have. Not only may you be entitled to medical expenses and loss of income, but you may also be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and the scarring or disfigurement your injuries have left.
The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Virginia dog bite attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.
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