Protecting Yourself Against Dog Bites

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Upwards of 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these bites, 800 000 are of such severity as to require medical attention. Further, about 368, 000 of these victims end up in hospital emergency departments, at a rate of 1, 008 per day. It is little wonder that dog bites are the fifth most frequent cause of emergency room visits among children. What's surpising is the drastic increase in the number of fatal maulings per year: 33 in 2007 and an average of 17 in the eighties and nineties.

In a study of dog bites from 1982 to present conducted by Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal people, it was found that two-thirds of life-threatening or fatal attacks by dogs with otherwise no known history of outrageous violent behavior. The Cliffton study shows that Rottweilers, Pit bulls, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in the study. Specifically, these breeds unleashed 68% of the attacks upon children, 82% of the attacks upon adults, and caused 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings.

Regardless of breed type, dog bites invariably result from dog owners' negligence. Most offten the only charge against dog bite victims is that of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, victims are not altogether helpless. There are steps you can follow to avoid dog attacks and to prevent escalating situations of attack. As well, there are measures that must be taken should you be bitten. Following are checklists, albeit inexhaustive, of what to do in each of the said cases.

How to Avoid a Dog Attack:

  • Do not pet a dog without first letting him see you.
  • Do not lean your face close to a dog.
  • Do not tease a dog, especially if it is chained.
  • Do not startle a sleeping dog.
  • Do not bother a dog that is eating.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies.
  • Do not turn your back on a dog and run away.

What to Do in Situation of Attack:

  • Never scream and run
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, do not to panic:

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner's name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you've seen him before, and in which direction he went.

This checklist--indeed, animal education in general--is a formidable weapon against dog bites. Protect your children from violent dog attacks; teach them how to interact with animals.

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Marya Sieminski has 1 articles online

Attorney Marya Sieminski joined the Law Offices of Sam Bernstein in 2003. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. Marya has worked as a trial lawyer for 10 years and exclusively represented victims in personal injury litigation and in workers compensation claims. She also was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State of Michigan Workers Compensation Qualifications Advisory Committee.

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Protecting Yourself Against Dog Bites

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This article was published on 2010/03/31