There are many perks to having a pet pooch—studies show people who have a canine companion have lower blood pressure, are in better physical shape, and have less stress.
But now and then, man’s best friend can bark up the wrong tree.
Millions of Americans are bitten by dogs each year, causing severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. In 2017, 39 people (15 children and 24 adults) in the U.S. died from dog attacks.
While dogs don’t discriminate by age or gender, children between the ages of five and nine have the highest rate of injuries from dog bites. And the majority of attacks happen in your backyard—61 percent of dog bites occur at home, and 75 percent of dogs that bite belong to a friend or family member of the victim.
How to prevent dog attacks
Many dog bites can be avoided if proper action is taken. Follow these safety tips to stay out of Fido’s way:
- Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar or aggressive dog.
- Curl into a ball and cover your head and neck with your hands if you are knocked to the ground.
- Let other adults know about stray or strange dogs in the area.
- Never let small children play around dogs unsupervised.
- Do not approach unfamiliar dogs. Ask the owner if it’s okay to come near their pet.
- Let a dog see and sniff you before petting it.
The most dangerous breeds
Every dog, no matter how sweet, is capable of biting and injuring you or a child. However, some tend to be more aggressive than others. These are the top six most dangerous breeds:
- German shepherd
- Mastiff and Bullmastiff
- American bulldog
What to do if you’ve been bit
It’s important to protect yourself as best as you can while you’re being attacked. If you’re able, put your purse, backpack, jacket, or any large item between you and the dog. If you’re knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.
Once you’re in a safe place, clean the wound with soap and water, apply an antibiotic cream, and cover the wound with a clean bandage. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), you should seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:
- The wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen.
- You can’t stop the bleeding, or you feel faint or weak.
- The injury is deep enough that you can see muscle or bone.
- You develop a fever.
- You’re not sure if the dog was vaccinated against rabies, and it was acting strange when it bit you.
- Report the incident to your local animal control agency or police department—you could be at risk for rabies. If possible, contact the owner and confirm the dog is up-to-date on its rabies shots.
Is a dog bite worth a lawsuit?
If you or your child are a victim of a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering.
In Texas, a dog bite lawsuit is considered a personal injury case. This means the “statute of limitations” law applies, and you have two years from the day of the injury to decide if you want to file a lawsuit.
To have a valid case, you must be able to prove the following:
- The dog’s owner knew their dog was being aggressive or the dog has bitten someone in the past.
- The dog’s owner was negligent in controlling their animal and that inattention or unpreparedness to restrain their pet caused your injury.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Thomas J. Henry are available 24/7 to hear your case. If a dog injured you, contact them at 877-978-1740 or www.thomasjhenrylaw.com for a free consultation.