Dogs are the most popular pets in the world – in fact, there are more dogs than children in the United States. But despite the fact that dogs are man’s best friend, they can turn on someone in an instant with very little provocation. Dogs bite around 4.5 million people every year in the U.S. according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and many of them are children.
Many owners don’t realize the damage their pet can cause in the event of an attack and only find out once it’s too late. Dog owners should understand their dog’s body language and take action to remove the dog from the situation if it looks startled, uncomfortable, or threatened.
Below, we discuss several things negligent dog owners do to put others around them at risk and what you can do if you became the victim of a dog bite through no fault of your own.
Allow Their Dog to Roam Without a Leash
Many dog owners assume their pets are trained well enough to walk or play without a leash, but this can lead to disaster. Even if the dog is active or rambunctious off the leash, owners may think that the animal is friendly enough that it won’t attack any other animal or person it comes into contact with off leash, but this isn’t always the case.
By failing to use a leash or muzzle when their dog is out of their sight, owners are putting their children and other pets around them at risk.
Allow Their Dog to Play Without Supervision
Some owners allow their dogs to play at the park or in their yard without supervising them, again believing that nothing bad will happen if the dog is approached or the dog approaches someone else. But this is when the risk of a bite is arguably the highest.
Dogs are instinctively aggressive, and even the most docile dogs can become defensive or aggressive in a matter of moments if they feel threatened or are startled. If an owner isn’t watching their dog, they may miss important cues that the dog is stressed, upset, or needs out of the situation.
Allow Their Dog to Play Roughly with Other Children
Many owners assume that because they have raised their dog since puppyhood and they know their animal well that the dog won’t hurt anyone, especially children. While training is important, even dogs that are well-trained and used to being around children may still bite a child who plays roughly with them.
In many cases, the child may not have the understanding to know how to interact appropriately with a dog. Children are also more fragile than adults, making them more susceptible to severe injuries if an attack occurs.
Often, dogs are triggered by children playing too roughly, like pulling its ears or tail. Children may also put their face in the dog’s face, or hold tightly on the dog’s head or neck. This can make the dog feel trapped, provoking a vicious attack.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog — especially if the victim is a child — it’s important to take action right away. Follow these steps to get help after a frightening dog attack:
- Call 911. Get emergency medical help for the victim’s injuries
- Get the dog’s information. The hospital will need to know if there’s a chance the victim could be at risk for rabies. Try to get the dog’s veterinary records if possible.
- Contact animal control. Whether or not the dog is a stray, report the bite to your local animal control department.
- Talk to witnesses. Once the victim is stabilized and the situation has calmed down, try to get the information of any witnesses who may have seen what happened before or during the attack.
- Call a personal injury attorney. You may be eligible for financial compensation after a dog bite. Usually, it’s the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy that pays. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.
How a Veteran Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Navigating life after a tragic dog attack can be challenging at best, especially if the victim was a child. Negligent dog owners should be held accountable for their contribution to the animal’s dangerous behavior and a personal injury lawyer can help.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have the skills and expertise needed to zealously represent you during settlement negotiations or litigation. We’ll tirelessly advocate for an outcome in your best interests and the interests of your family members and loved ones. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case or to learn more about your legal options by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.