Most dogs are all too happy to accept a belly rub and other attention from humans. But you’ll occasionally encounter a canine who’s out for blood. Many dogs are stronger and faster than we are, so a dog attack or bite can knock you out of commission.
According to an infographic published on LiveScience, 4.7 million people are bitten by a dog in the United States each year. These include bites that don’t break the skin as well as those that leave scars.
The graphic also shows that 50 percent of dog attacks involve children under the age of 12 years. This underscores the necessity to watch your kids around dogs, particularly big ones.
In case you or someone you know gets attacked by a dog, it’s vital to be prepared. You must know how to act quickly if you want to minimize the damage and recover well. Here’s what to do.
1. During the Attack
Most dogs will only attack humans if they feel threatened. Trying to remove yourself from their space and avoid swift, threatening movements. Once you’re out of immediate striking range, move away quickly to avoid the attack.
“If you are confronted by an aggressive dog, the most important thing to remember is this: Stay calm,” suggests an article from Cesar’s Way. “Don’t give in to fear or anxiety, and don’t start yelling or kicking at the dog. An aggressive dog wants you to be stressed out before it attacks, but if you remain calm and in control, it slows them down and throws them off.”
Try to let the dog attack something aside from you, such as your sweater or a stick. Protect your face, chest, and throat, and keep your hands in fists to protect your fingers.
2. Secure the Dog
It’s vital to get the dog away from the victim as quickly as possible. Try to scare the animal away and restrain it from continuing an attack. Call animal control to reduce the chances that the dog could hurt anyone else.
3. Get Medical Attention
If the attack is serious, call an ambulance or have someone drive you to the emergency room. Around the world, about 25,000 people are killed by a dog attack every year. Don’t add yourself to that total.
Even if it’s only a bite, you should still seek professional medical help. “The No. 1 concern with these bites is infection,” says Stephen Sayles III, MD, an emergency medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic.
“You may need hospitalization and require intravenous antibiotics. You should always see a primary care provider if you’re bitten.”
Infection can lead to other complications that may be fatal. Dogs can carry diseases like rabies, in which case you’ll need a vaccination and treatment to prevent contracting a more serious medical condition.
Treatment for your dog bite will also protect your limbs. About 70 percent of dog bites occur on your extremities, and an infected, untreated dog bite could lead to the loss of a limb.
4. Get the Owner’s Information
Most dogs have an owner who should be made responsible for your medical bills. Get that person’s name and contact information, even if it’s a friend or family member.
The owner of the dog is liable to cover the medical bills and altered life conditions of the victim. If you can’t work because of your injuries, the owner may also be liable for lost wages compensation.
5. File a Police Report
The police should be called to the scene of the attack if immediate medical attention is not necessary. When it is, go to a police station as soon as you can after undergoing medical treatment.
The police will document the time, date, and location of the attack. They might also shoot photographs and take statements from witnesses.
The owner of the dog might also face a fine or penalties to discourage a repeat offense. Most important, you’ll have a documented file to which you may refer for evidence.
6. Talk to Your Attorney
An article from David Gordon Law reports that even though more than 4.5 million dog bites happen every year, only about 18,000 insurance claims are filed to seek compensation for those incidents.
“The disparity in those numbers suggests that a high number of dog bite victims take no action. This is a mistake,” the article says.
“If a dog owner’s careless or reckless handling of a dog caused you or a loved one to suffer injuries, then you have every right to seek just compensation for your medical expenses and other damages. You should act on that right.”
Some people hesitate to file a lawsuit because they know the owner of the offending animal, but you should not have to be responsible for the medical bills that result from such an injury.
It’s also worthwhile to ensure that no one else suffers the same kind of attack because the dog was not properly handled. Talking to your attorney and obtaining just compensation is the right thing to do.