Dogs bite more than 4.5 million of people each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). About one out of every five of those people end up with wounds so serious that they require medical attention.
These statistics can seem intimidating. However, there are many ways you can improve your safety around dogs and minimize your risk of being bitten.
Why do dogs bite?
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but usually they bite when they are reacting to something or protecting something. It is important to keep in mind that any dog can bite. It does not matter what breed, sex, age or size the dog is. Even beloved family pets may bite in certain situations.
One of the best ways to prevent a dog from biting you is to recognize and avoid risky situations. You may consider leaving a dog alone if the dog is:
- Not accompanied by its owner
- With its owner, but the owner does not give you permission to pet the dog
- Located on the other side of a fence
- Sick or injured
- Protecting her puppies
- Playing with a toy
- Growling or barking
What should you do if a dog bites you?
If a dog bites you, be sure you receive proper medical attention. Dog bite wounds are often prone to infection and can be more severe than they initially appear.
If you are not the dog’s owner, it can be important to obtain the dog’s vaccination history. This can prevent you undergoing unnecessary medical procedures.
It may also be valuable to get the name and contact information for the dog’s owner, as well as anyone who witnessed the attack. These details can be valuable if there is a need for an insurance claim or lawsuit. For the sake of any possible later claim, it is also beneficial to take photographs of the wounds as they heal.
You may also consider filing a report with your animal control agency or police department. This will help ensure there is a record of the incident. It may even help prevent an incident like this from occurring again.
Keep in mind that dog owners are expected to take responsibility for their pets. If you are seriously injured, it may be reasonable to hold the owner accountable for the damage their pet caused. It may be possible to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs related to your injury.