Preventing Dog Bites

For dog owners as well as for those who are bitten by the dog, a biting incident can be devastating. For the owner, the result of such an incident can be a lawsuit, fines, jail time (in some states), or even the euthanizing of the dog.

The injured may have to endure medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of work, disfigurement, and possibly a lengthy court case. Dog bites are an extremely serious issue over 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog in the United States every year. Of those, one in five who are bitten, or 885,000, will require medical attention for their injuries. In 2006, 32,000 people had to undergo reconstructive surgery because of being bitten by a dog.

Young children are the most susceptible for dog bite related injuries, especially those who are aged 5-9 years old. Adult men are also more prone to being bitten by a dog than women. Having dogs in the home also increases the incidence of dog bites, as adults who have two or more dogs in one household are five times as likely to be bitten than those without a dog.

Both dog owners and potential victims, however, can take steps to prevent dog bites and to avoid the consequences that they bring.

Prevention begins even before the dog is brought home. Dog owners should thoroughly research the type of dog that they are interested in raising. In today's world of information, it is easy to find data on any breed. Pick a breed of dog that will fit your lifestyle and environment. Some breeds are great with children, while others aren't. Some require more attention than others. Consider your family size and disposition, as well as the size of your home, among other things, when choosing a dog. Spending time with the dog before you bring it home is also important, as is introducing it slowly to any other animals in the house.

At home, be sure to socialize your dog, introducing him to the types of people and environments that he will encounter daily. This way, the dog is less likely to be caught in a situation in which he may feel frightened, threatened or aggressive, in which he might demonstrate the need to defend himself. Training the dog also cuts down on its potential to bite. Proper treatment of your dog is also essential in preventing bites. Dog that are sick or neglected tend to have the dispositions that lead to a biting incident. Owners should also avoid exciting the dog, with rough games that tend to lead to a bite, such as wrestling. Spaying or neutering a dog reduces their aggressive tendencies. Infants and young children should never be left alone with a dog.

Dog owners are not the only people who should take precautions to prevent dog bites, even if the dog is familiar. Some of these precautions include teaching children not to approach a strange dog without the owner's permission. This rule even applies to a dog that is known to the children.

Adults should always supervise children around the dogs. Adults and children alike should stay away from a dog which is eating or sleeping, dog with puppies, or a dog that is sick. All these situations are ones in which a dog will feel potential the need to be defensive to bite.

If you are approached by a strange dog, you should remain as still as possible as calm, and let the dog sniff you. Making any sudden moves may be misinterpreted by the dog, causing it to bite.

Dog bites can be prevented with a little education and extra caution. Adults as well as children should take care, even with a familiar dog, in order to prevent bites. If, despite your best efforts, however, you have experienced a dog bite, there are several steps that should be taken as soon as possible. Record all pertinent information about the dog and its owner, including the owner's name and telephone number as well as the dog's licensing information if applicable. If there are witnesses to the dog bite, you should get their contact information as well. Treat the wound as soon as possible, of course, seeking professional medical attention if necessary. Dog bites are particularly prone to bacterial infection, so even bites that don't appear serious should be thoroughly cleaned. Lastly, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite cases, to learn whether or not you might be entitled to recover damages for medical costs, time lost from work, and pain and suffering.


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