Millions of dog bites occur each year in the United States. In 2013 alone, 4.7 million attacks occurred. Of those attacks, 800,000 required urgent medical care, and 30 resulted in death.
The most common injuries involved male dogs and young children under the age of 15. Typically, the damage occurred to the arms or legs of the victim. These types of injuries can be prevented if dog owners and pedestrians work together. Observe these safety tips to avoid becoming a victim of a dog bite attack.
To avoid being attacked:
- Do not approach a dog you don't know, particularly if that dog is confined in some way (behind a fence, in a car, etc.)
- Do not approach or attempt to touch a dog when it is doing something like sleeping, eating, caring for puppies, or playing with a toy.
- Avoid letting children come in contact with unfamiliar dogs or dogs partaking in any of the activities mentioned above.
- Always assume a dog views you as a personal threat, and respect the dog's personal space. It is best to let a dog approach you first.
- Pay attention to a dog's body language, and avoid contact with the dog if you notice any of the following physical cues:
- Teeth are bared
- Ears are pulled back
- Body is rigid, hair on the back is raised
- Tail is stiff
- Backing away
To help prevent dog bite attacks, owners should:
- Keep the dog in a fenced enclosure. Keeping a dog on a leash will keep a dog restrained, but may agitate the dog and will not always keep people away from your dog. To avoid issues, it is best to contain your dog within a fence.
- Socialize and train your dog from the moment you bring them home. Under-socialized dogs may feel threatened by people other than their owners, so it is important to make them feel comfortable around a variety of people.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered. This procedure often helps to calm the animal and can help prevent dogs from becoming aggressive in situations.
- Supervise your dog around other people, particularly young children. If you know your dog does not like to be in contact with other people, warn those who try to approach your dog to avoid causing injury.
In the event you feel you are going to be attacked:
Try to remain as calm as possible and ignore the impulse to run. Avoid eye contact with the dog, as this can cause the dog to feel threatened or challenged. If the dog starts to attack, try to give the dog another object to chew on. This could be anything you are carrying on you at the time, like a purse or jacket, or an object near you, like a branch or pillow.
If you need to get away, never turn your back on the dog and run. Dogs have a natural instinct to chase prey, so turning your back and running will only worsen the situation. Instead, slowly and carefully back away from the dog, keeping your eye on it at all times until you have reached safety.
If you are attacked by a dog:
If a dog attacks and bites you, the wound should immediately be washed with soap and warm water. If the bite is severe, contact the emergency medical authorities immediately. The attack should be reported to local animal authorities. If the dog has an owner, be sure to give that information, along with the type of dog and any other facts you know about the dog. If the dog is a stray, contact the animal authorities to report where you were attacked and what the dog looks like.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a dog bite attack, call the experts at Naftulin & Shick for a free consultation.