Dealing with dog bites

Dogs bite almost 4.5 million people each year, and half of those bitten are children. While many dogs are friendly and do not cause harm, dog bites can cause medical complications. Having dogs in the home is associated with a higher risk of dog bites, and people who have two or more dogs at home are five times more likely to suffer dog bites than those with no dogs at home. However, unfamiliar dogs may pose a greater health risk since it is not always possible to know if an animal has been vaccinated for rabies and other diseases.

In order to protect themselves from possible dog bites, both children and adults can familiarize themselves with how to handle unexpected encounters with unfamiliar dogs. Some people, especially children, may be tempted to run or scream when they see a dog they don’t know. This can lead to the dog chasing the person. Instead, it’s helpful to stand perfectly still when people encounter an unfamiliar dog.

By supervising children around dogs, parents can ensure that they will know if the child is bitten. However, parents can still teach their children that they need to tell an adult if a dog bites them. People should also practice avoiding eye contact with unfamiliar dogs and allowing a dog to sniff them before petting it.

If a friend or neighbor’s dog bites an individual, he or she may face unexpected medical bills and possibly even medical complications. If either of these things becomes a problem, it may be helpful to consult with a premises liability attorney who could assist in negotiating a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance carrier. Such a settlement may help cover medical costs.

Source: CDC, “Dog Bites“, August 11, 2014