The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 386,000 incidents of dog bites in the United States are serious enough to require emergency room care. And while some bites occur during work-related activities such as mail/package delivery or utilities service, the majority of bite victims are elderly or children under the age of twelve.
Dog Bite Incidents: When Fido Turns Fiend
According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 40% of households claim to have at least one dog, indicating that many Americans have an affinity for canines. Unfortunately, “man’s best friend” can sometimes become man’s worst nightmare in the case of a serious bite injury.
Permanent scarring, disfigurement, plastic surgery and mental trauma can all result from an altercation with an angry animal. If hospitalization is required, victims may face lost wages and expensive medical bills. This is when a personal injury attorney should get involved to seek compensation for income, medical treatment, and mental trauma caused by the event.
Dog Bite Prevention Strategies
With proper education and responsible ownership, many dog bites can be prevented. Although most owners love their pet and don’t think the animal would hurt someone, the possibility should never be completely ruled out. Statistics reveal that the majority of dog bites are actually inflicted on friends and family members of a dog’s owner.
Even if your dog is old, small, or usually gentle, it is still an animal with the potential for aggression. To avoid liability and protect people who come in contact with your dog, there are a few simple strategies you can enforce.
1. Always keep your dog on a leash or inside a fence.
In some states, you can be automatically liable for any injury that occurs while your dog is running at large.
2. Make sure your dog is current on all vaccinations and you have records for proof.
If your dog ever bites someone, even if it doesn’t seem serious, the victim and the authorities will want to know that the animal has a current rabies vaccination.
3. Keep your dog away from the front door.
Mail carriers, Girl Scouts, poll-takers and salespeople will all visit your front door at some point. Keeping your dog securely contained in a back yard or behind a gate in your home will prevent an accident from happening.
4. Be extra careful with your dog around children.
One report estimated that nearly half of all dog bites involve younger children. These kids may not realize that they are provoking a dog, making them more likely to get bitten. Even if a child is familiar with a dog, you need to pay close attention to their interaction at all times.
5. Train and socialize your dog.
The best way to prevent aggression and unintentional injury is to properly train your pet. It is also helpful to safely expose them to a variety of people and situations beginning at a young age. The Humane Society of the United States offers helpful training tips or you can enlist the expertise of a professional dog trainer.
6. Post warning signs.
If you have any reason to believe that there is a possibility your dog might attack someone who comes onto your property, be proactive about warning visitors. Post “Beware of Dog” or “Dog in Yard” signs where they can easily be seen. You may also consider this if you have a certain breed of dog that is commonly associated with aggression (such as a Pit Bull or German Shepherd), just for the sake of expectation.