What Georgian’s Need to Know About Dog Bites
Dogs have long been considered “man’s best friend”, but the fact of the matter is that dogs are animals, and that makes them unpredictable. There are a lot of misconceptions about dog bites, what contributes to bite injuries, how to treat injuries, and what varieties of dogs are most dangerous. At The Dixon Firm, we want to clear up the misconceptions and provide our readers with information that really matters.
Whether you are a dog owner, a neighbor concerned about the safety of your family, or you have already been bitten by a dog, it is important to understand your legal rights. In this article, we will provide you with helpful information that Georgian’s need to know about dog bites.
How Common are Dog Bites?
Dog bites are a serious problem across the United States. Consider the following statistics:
According to the CDC, more than 36 percent of all U.S. households have dogs in them. The likelihood of being bitten by a dog increases if there is a dog in your home. The more dogs you have, the greater the risk.
- Every year, around 4.5 million people are injured by dog bites.
- At least half of all dog bites cases are among children between the ages of five and nine years old.
- At least half of all reported dog bite cases occur between people and dogs that are familiar with one another.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of every five dog bite injuries is serious enough to require medical attention.
- An estimated 27,000 dog bite cases every year requires reconstructive surgery.
- One of the most serious concerns related to dog bites is infections, which include tetanus and rabies – both of which can be serious if untreated.
As these statistics show, dog bites are a fairly common occurrence. Part of understanding why they are so common is understanding the factors that contribute to dogs biting.
What are the Most Common Reasons Dog Bites Occur?
Any dog of any breed or size is capable of biting. The majority of dog bite cases are the result of animal instinct kicking in and the dog reacting. The person on the receiving end of the attack may not know how to recognize warning signs or handle a potentially dangerous situation. Here are the five most common reasons why dog bites occur.
- Possessiveness: Dogs are very possessive of their property and owners. Dogs can easily become agitated when someone gets too close to their food, toys, territory, or human companions. It is important to train your dog to be patient and to wait for food or treats until you are ready.
- Fear: Fear is an animal instinct that can easily result in a dog biting. When dogs are frightened of a stranger (mailman, veterinarian, or unfamiliar child), their instinct is to protect themselves. Socialize your dog with other people and pets from a young age. Introduce your dog to mail or delivery carriers, and ensure they see these individuals as friends.
- Pain: Just like humans, when dogs are in pain they can be more irritable. If your dog has an illness or injury, it is important to educate anyone coming around in how to avoid sore spots. Snippy or irritable behavior can also be a sign that your dog may be injured or need to see the vet.
- Maternal Instincts: Dogs are incredibly protective of their young. Even dogs that are well trained can become possessive or irritable when tending to puppies. If your dog is expecting or recently had puppies, make sure they have a safe environment away from humans and distractions. When you need to handle or interrupt care, be soft and supportive, and use caution.
- Prey Instincts: People commonly joke about how easily distracted dogs are when they see small animals like a squirrel or cat, or bark at vehicles or cyclists. This instinct can also contribute to dogs biting humans.
How to Prevent Dog Bites
Animal behavior is often difficult to understand, which means it is important that you and your family are aware of how to react to potentially dangerous animal encounters. Whether the dog is a family friend or a stranger, it is important to respond appropriately to prevent injuries.
- What to Do – To help prevent dog bites, here are some things you can consider doing:
- Always ask a dog’s owner before approaching or attempting to pet the dog.
- If you are approached by a strange dog, remain calm and motionless.
- If you get knocked down by a dog, curl into a ball protecting your head and neck with your arms.
- If you see a dog behaving strangely, notify your parents, another adult, or animal control.
- If you are approached by a strange dog, avoid eye contact as the dog may see this as a challenge.
- Use a firm voice to say “no”, “go home” or “get away”.
- Train your dog to be patient with food and toys.
- Teach children to leave dogs be when they are eating or playing with a favorite toy.
- What Not to Do – Here are some things that you should consider avoiding to prevent dog bites:
- Do not approach unfamiliar dogs.
- Do not run from a dog.
- Do not panic, yell, or make loud noises.
- Do not disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or tending to puppies.
- Do not attempt to pet a dog that has not sniffed you.
- Do not encourage your dog(s) to play rough or aggressively.
- Do not allow children to play with dogs when unsupervised.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
After a dog bite occurs, the first step is treating the injury. Minor injuries can often be treated at home, but it is a good idea to see a doctor in order to prevent infection. Dog teeth often carry infection that can easily spread to humans.
The next step you should consider is contacting a dog-bite attorney to find out more about your legal rights. Dogs who are not properly cared for, supervised, or vaccinated can be dangerous, and you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and resulting expenses. To learn more, contact our Atlanta dog bite lawyers today.