Despite growing media attention, the risk of experiencing a significant dog bite has not increased significantly in recent years. It is estimated that roughly 2% of the American population is affected by significant dog bites annually, with certain breeds receiving most of the blame. But how dangerous are dogs, really? Is this a threat that needs to be addressed by the average citizen?
If we’re just looking at the numbers, there are tens of millions of people that are affected by dog bites annually. Between 4 and 5 million of those people are located in the United States, with the majority of these dogs being the family pet of the victim or someone the victim knows. Half of the attacks occur on the property of the dog owner. Although the numbers are large, just 1% of all emergency room visitors are in there due to an animal bite – and that is including animals besides dogs. In recent years, the annual death rate due to dog bites has averaged around 26.
Causes of dog bites
When studying the topic of dog bites, it’s important to delve into the reasons why they occur in the first place. Dogs aren’t vicious, uncontrollable animals by nature – if they were, millions of people wouldn’t currently have them as household pets. There must other causes for the bites, all of which are important for people to know about when protecting themselves from the risk of being bitten.
Disruption of food or water
Some dogs become aggressive by nature if their food or water is removed from them. In terms of evolution, this sort of instinct makes perfect sense – if they have food in front of them and it is being threatened, they needed to challenge the threatener to survive.
If a dog feels attacked, or its territory or “pack” (which often means the owner and family for modern-day domestic animals) is under threat, a dog might become aggressive. Even if a person isn’t intentionally attacking them or their territory, the perception of an attack can trigger aggression in some dogs. When there is a perceived intruder, the reactions of dogs can often be unpredictable – which sometimes leads to bites.
Some dogs are “programmed” to become more aggressive when they are sick, injured, or elderly as a sort of defense mechanism. They are more likely to snap at people and are not going to welcome strangers kindly.
Additionally, dogs that are afraid will act defensively if someone doesn’t respond to their fearful or insecure behavior. If the person isn’t reacting to this behavior (as often happens, especially with those unfamiliar with dog behavior), the dog might perceive it as a threat.
Interfering in a fight
Although this is fairly predictable, a person stepping in between a dog and its prey (or the other end of a dog fight) is lucky if they step out of the situation without a bite. It is normal for a dog to bite the person or animal that is in between them and the person or thing they are attacking.
Although it is relatively safe to say, you shouldn’t fear dogs, if you are harmed by one you should still seek legal advice. Domestic pets are the responsibility of their owners, and you should not have to fear being hurt.
What To Do If A Dog Attacks You
Although rare, sometimes man’s best friend can turn vicious. We’ve all heard stories from acquaintances or seen it on the news, but still, most people don’t expect it to happen to them. Most people won’t even think about it happening – until it’s too late.
Whether caused by playfulness gone wrong or an actual vicious attack, any dog attack can be harmful or even fatal. There are certain steps that will protect you if you ever do find yourself in this dangerous situation.
Avoiding the Attack
The first thing -try to avoid the attack altogether. This doesn’t mean avoiding every strange dog you meet; it just means knowing how to respond if a dog is acting strangely.
If you sense that something isn’t right with a dog near you, you need to be proactive about preventing the actual attack. The most important thing to remember is: don’t panic. If you panic and scream or run away, the dog will only be encouraged to chase after you.
When you were young, you probably heard some adult wisdom about dogs: act like a tree. As it turns out, this advice is exactly what you should do if a dog is acting strangely. Keep your arms to your sides, do not move, turn to face away from the dog, and avoid eye contact. Even if the dog walks up to you, it may simply sniff you, lose interest, and walk away.
If you are lucky enough to have another object with you, you could try using that to distract the dog. Whether it’s a bag, a pencil or a bone, anything is worth a try (besides your own limbs, of course). If you succeed in diverting the dog’s attention, use this opportunity to get away to safety.
If you weren’t able to avoid it and the dog has begun to attack you, it’s time to take action. Try commanding the dog to “back away” in a confident, deep voice. Continue to avoid eye contact.
If that doesn’t work, physically fight back. The dog’s weak spots are the back of its head (not the top, where its skull is thick), nose, and throat. Otherwise, use your full weight and elbows or knees to wrestle the dog down. In general, your weight can be used to your advantage. If you do it right, this action may cause the dog’s bones to break. Remember, a dog attack is a direct threat to your life. Unless you are able to hold it down until help comes, you will need to do whatever it takes to survive. In this case, it most likely includes harming the dog – don’t hold back.
While defending yourself, make sure you also keep your head, neck, and torso safe from the dog’s jaws, as injuries in those locations are the most life-threatening. The worst thing you could do is lay on the ground, as that gives the dog direct and easy access to these areas.
Dog attacks are not something to ignore. If you are injured in a dog attack, be sure to pursue legal action. You could be saving another person’s life by bringing the dangerous dog to the attention of the authorities.
Is a Dog Bite Injury Your Fault?
It’s quite common for people to think that a dog or the dog’s owner is always to blame when a dog attacks. This is most often the case, but you have to remember that the other party might have a good case in making you look negligent if you don’t follow the right rules. If you provoke a dog or don’t ask the owner if the dog is safe then it might look like you are the one who was causing problems. Sure, a person is typically going to be seen as more important than a dog in the court of law, but you have some responsibilities to make sure that you don’t put yourself in a bad situation with an animal.
You Pet or Approach a Dog Without Knowing its Past
There are several dogs who are afraid of people and don’t trust them because they have been abused in the past. Many of these dogs are neglected by their owners and then end up in shelters where other people adopt them. In this case the owners might tell you that the dog is afraid of some human genres or all people in general, making them a bit hostile towards people who approach them. This isn’t the dog’s fault, and many good lawyers can make the argument that you should ask the owner to pet their dog before doing so. If you don’t ask and the dog attacks you then you were actually the one who caused the accident. Now, you can still win a case where you were the one that approached the dog, but you hinder your chances of winning, especially if you go up against a lawyer who knows how to frame evidence like this.
You Provoke the Dog
Dogs are creatures that have very different thoughts than humans. They become very protective of their owners and might take a certain action as a threat. A child might throw a stick at a dog for fun or someone might try to pick a dog up when the dog sees this as a threat. Your best bet is to treat all dogs with respect and not just assume that their sense of fun is not always the same as yours. When in doubt, ask the owner how the dog might respond to a particular form of petting or playing.
You Invade the Dog’s Territory
Just because you see a dog playing in a yard doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go and join. When dogs are playing in their yards they might see a person who approaches them as an intruder. Think about the consequences before you approach a dog in their territory. Just because you walk into a party and a dog is hanging out, doesn’t mean it’s an invitation to start screwing around with them. Remember that it’s the dog’s territory and you have to respect this.
Contact a Bog Bite Attorney Right Away
If you or a loved one have been bitten by by a dog because someone was negligent or reckless with the animal, call the Begum Law Group and speak to The Law Giant about your options. Free consults available: 866-523-4167.