While dogs are man’s best friend they can sometimes lash out in unexpected ways. Animal bites are common throughout the United States, though most only require minor medical attention. In addition to causing physical injury, a dog bite can become infected. To protect yourself and your loved ones it’s important to understand why dogs attack, how bites should be treated and how to avoid them.
Common Causes and Risk Factors
There is not one major contributing factor that causes dogs to bite or lash out at others. Even without provocation, some dogs will bite regardless of whether they are wild or trained. Most bite injuries are suffered by young children or elderly adults. The risk of an attack or bite is most closely linked to how a person responds to a dog’s behavior. Poor training or aggressive behavior on the owner’s part can result in an animal much more likely to lash out if frightened or approached. Some people even try to treat wild or stray dogs as if they were just another family pet, often with poor results. The most common cause of injury is not the dog’s nature, but how they’re taught to act.
What to Do If You’re Bitten
If you or a loved one are bitten by any animal, it’s important to quickly assess the severity of the wound and seek proper medical care. Minor bites that just break the skin can be treated at home; wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water before applying antibiotic cream and covering it with a clean bandage.
You should seek immediate medical attention if the bite wound is a deep puncture, there is significant bleeding or you notice signs of infection such as swelling, redness or oozing. In addition to any physical damage, animal bites can result in a rabies infection. If the dog is domestic, ask its owners if the animal’s rabies shots are up to date. If the animal is wild or not vaccinated against rabies, speak with a doctor immediately to get a rabies shot of your own.
Preventing dog bites comes down to understanding what a dog’s behaviors and actions mean while modifying your own so you don’t appear to be a threat. If approached by an unfamiliar dog or animal you don’t want to interact with:
- Remain motionless and calm
- Avoid direct eye contact
- Say “no” or “go home” in a firm voice
- Stand with the side of your body facing the dog, to appear less aggressive
- Approach an unfamiliar dog
- Make loud or frightening noises
- Disturb a dog that is feeding or nursing puppies
- Pet a dog you’ve never met before
Maine Personal Injury Lawyers
Animal related attacks and collisions are an increasingly common form of injury in the State of Maine. Despite the mounting financial losses, most victims aren’t aware that they can take legal action after an incident. If you or a loved one have ever been the victim of an animal related injury, the personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing will help you get the settlement you deserve to help you down the path of recovery. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free case evaluation.