Today is National Pet Day! So pet lovers will be spending the day cuddling their cats, feeding lettuce to their turtle, watching TV with their gold fish, and most commonly, head head to the park with their dogs! Dogs are man’s best friend, which is proven by the fact that according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA), there are about 70 million dogs living in U.S. households. Since this is such a large number of dogs, it’s not hard to believe that there must also be a large number of dog bites in the US. In fact, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year, and 1 in 5 people require medical attention after being bitten. As The Michigan Law Firm, PC blog informed readers the other day, family dogs and stray dogs are equally likely to attack, if provoked.
However, just because a person doesn’t provoke a dog doesn’t mean that a dog won't approach the person. Let’s say you’re hanging out in your backyard all by yourself, when all of a sudden a huge, growling dog jumps over the fence and into your yard. You didn’t invite it in! The dog didn’t ring the doorbell and bring you a casserole! You don’t want to make a sudden move and anger the dog into attacking you and you don’t see the dog’s owner anywhere! Or may it’s a stray, it's mouth is foaming after all! You’re cornered with nowhere to go, so you slowly try to reach into your pocket for your phone, in order to call for help. But it’s too late! Your subtle movement was enough to threaten the dog and before you know it, you’re on your back, putting your arms up to defend your body from the 70 lb beast trying to maul you. You kick out in self defense and manage to shove the dog off of you and you use the momentum to your advantage and run inside your house and lock the door. As you lean against the door, catching your breath after Cujo's attack, a searing pain rips through your arm. You’ve been bitten.
So, what should a person who was involved in a dog attack accident do in the event that they experience a dog bite? Well, the AMVA gives the following post-dog bite advice:
What To Do After A Dog Bite
If the dog's owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner's name and contact information.
Clean bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if it's after office hours.
Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records.
Even seemingly harmless nibbles that break the skin should be taken seriously to prevent a dog bite injury from worsening, especially if it’s a stray of a dog you don’t have the medical history of. And in the case of a larger or deeper bite, Dr. Amy Flowers, DVM says it is possible that there could be damage to muscles, tendons, or nerves. If the bite is deep enough dog bite victims may need stitches to close the wound. Dog bite injuries that are swollen, red, or warm to the touch indicate signs of infection and should be brought to a doctor’s attention. If the dog bite injury is serious enough, it may even require surgery. Dog bite surgery may sound like an exaggeration to some, but The American Society of Plastic Surgery reported that nearly 29,000 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2016, to repair dog bite injuries.
Everyone should also remember that not all dog bite injuries are caused by interactions with stray dogs. According to the AVMA, 36.5% of households have at least 1 dog, and people with 2 dogs in the household are more likely to be bitten. Even if a dog is your best friend and very well trained, dogs are still animals and they can still bite, in certain situations. While the AMVA’s tips on how to prevent dog bites are useful to avoid facing a dog bite injury, sometimes dog attacks can’t be avoided. Therefore it’s best to have the knowledge of how to treat a dog bite in your pocket.
With over 70 million dogs in the United States, there is a high chance of people getting into dog bite accidents. Medical expenses aren’t the only cost rising out of a dog bite, since according to the AMVA, dog bites accounted for one third of homeowners liability claims, in the last year! If you have been bitten by a dog and are unsure what the next legal step is, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC. Call 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation to personally meet with a dog bite attorney.