Safety Tips for Preventing Dog Bite Injuries
We love our furry pets, but dogs are also animals with instincts, motives beyond our understanding, and individual personalities. In 2019 alone, there were 1,025 new reports on dog bite fatalities in the U.S. Dog attacks are painful and terrifying, causing emotional trauma to victims as well as excruciating wounds, high instances of infection, and disfiguring scars. An average of 1,000 people per day in the U.S. seek emergency medical treatment for dog bite wounds with close to 12,500 annual hospitalizations.
Dog owners are responsible for a victim’s economic damages when their dog causes injury. In some cases, they’re also held responsible for non-economic damages like pain, suffering, and emotional trauma. While it helps that victims of dog bite injuries have legal recourse for compensation, it’s always better to prevent dog bites before they occur, especially since over 50% of dog bites happen to children. Senior citizens are also common victims of dog attacks.
Recognizing Signs of Aggression in Dogs
One of the best ways to prevent dog bite injuries is to recognize signs of aggression in a dog’s behavior. Whether you’re the dog’s owner or you encounter an unfamiliar dog, recognizing signs of aggressive behavior in a dog helps to avoid injuries before they occur. Common signs of dog aggression that could lead to biting include:
- A dog that’s possessive of food, toys, and its sleep area
- A dog that blocks the path of people and other dogs
- Frequently mounting legs or other dogs
- Persistent low-range barking
- A high, stiff tail
- Raised hackles
- Pricked ears
- Wrinkled nose
- Exposed teeth
- Freezing and holding their breath
If you witness any of these signs in a strange dog, retreat without running. If your dog exhibits any of the above signs you should have a professional evaluate the dog for aggression.
Tips for Preventing a Dog Attack
While dogs are animals and can be unpredictable, experienced dog bite lawyers in Birmingham share certain tips for preventing a dog attack that include some important dos and don’ts.
Dog Bite Dos:
- Don’t approach a strange dog whether lose, tied, or fenced
- If approached by a dog exhibiting signs of aggression, turn slightly sideways, relax your mouth and facial muscles, and remain calm
- After knocking or ringing a doorbell, take a few steps back to leave space between yourself and a dog that could be at the door
- Teach children to be gentle with dogs
- If a dog has lunged but not yet bitten, use a strong voice command such as “NO!” and back away slowly while facing the dog, keeping your arms down at your side
- If a dog lunges at you with teeth bared, insert any available object between you and the dog, like a purse, backpack, or jacket. If you have no obstacle to take the bite, use your non-dominant arm
Report any encounters with an aggressive dog to your local animal control authority.
Dog Bite Don’ts
- Never approach an injured dog
- Never approach a dog while it’s eating
- Do NOT leave children unattended with any animal
- Don’t provoke a dog or allow a child to tease, poke, or strike a dog
- Don’t turn your back on an aggressive dog, but instead, slowly back away while keeping your body at an angle
- Don’t get between a dog and its owner
- Don’t make direct eye contact with an unfamiliar dog
- Don’t try to break up a dog fight except from a distance with a hose
Avoiding a dog attack is the first line of defense against bite injuries, but if you or a loved one is injured by a dog, it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention and report the injury to your local authorities and animal control. Contact a Birmingham personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite litigation in your state to seek compensation for your damages.