When it comes to canines, it’s hard to believe that an animal with such a loyal and loving reputation would ever be capable of causing harm. However, dog bites are more common than you think. According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year. What’s more, about one out of every five dog bite victims will need medical attention.
Though a dog generally will not bite a human unless the dog feels provoked, sometimes seemingly innocent actions can cause them to feel anxious, startled or threatened and result in a dangerous encounter. If you or a family member gets bitten by a dog, knowing what steps to take can be crucial for your health and ensuring the dog doesn’t hurt anyone else in the future.
1. Seek medical attention
Of course, if the dog has caused bite wounds or other serious injuries, your top priority should be seeking medical care right away. Even if the injuries are relatively minor, it’s a good idea to have a doctor examine any puncture wounds as they are especially prone to infection. If the dog doesn’t have an owner or isn’t up to date on their vaccinations, you may have to receive a rabies vaccine.
2. Trade information with the owner
If the dog’s owner is present, you’ll want to be sure to exchange contact information in the event you need to get ahold of them in the future. It would help your doctor if you also asked about the dog’s vaccination history to determine whether you may need specific medical treatment, such as rabies shots.
3. Gather evidence
After the attack, collecting additional information and evidence may be necessary if you need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit for your injuries. If there were any witnesses at the scene, record their contact information and document the events and circumstances surrounding the bite. You should also take photos of your injuries to provide a full picture of the incident.
4. Report the attack
If the attack was severe enough to cause injuries, you should consider reporting the incident with animal control to open an investigation. If the dog has no owner, you may help get an aggressive or sick canine off the street. If the dog has an owner, filing a report will ensure there is a record of the attack if the dog bites again.
While the vast majority of dog bites don’t result in injury, it’s important to remember that any dog can cause harm in a stressful situation. Knowing what steps to take in the aftermath of a dog bite will help ensure that you receive the care and compensation you need.