It’s hard to walk down the street and not run into a dog – the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that there are anywhere from 70 to 80 million pet dogs in the United States, and neither the APPA nor the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) can calculate how many stray dogs there are roaming the country. As great as it may be to run up and say hello to a friendly dog, it’s important to exercise restraint and remember that these are still the descendants of wild animals, and in the case of stray dogs, they’re still wild animals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the US every year, and nearly 20 percent of them become infected. Contact animal control if you were attacked by a stray dog and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites can cause a myriad of dangerous and deadly diseases like rabies, tetanus, and MRSA, a type of antibiotic-resistant Staph infection.
Preventing a Bite
- If an unfamiliar dog begins to approach you, stay calm and stand still. Panicking may spook the dog and cause it to attack, and there are very few humans who can outrun even the slowest dog. The average dog can run as fast as an Olympic sprinter, and can even reach speeds of 45 miles per hour depending on the breed.
- If a stray dog begins to approach you, turn your body so you aren’t facing it head-on, avoid making direct eye contact, and say “No” in a firm, calm tone. If you can, begin backing up slowly until you are a safe distance away, or simply let the dog pass by.
- Don’t approach a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- If it’s a pet dog and its owner gives you permission, allow it to smell you before petting it.
Even though the easiest solution is to avoid being bitten in the first place, that isn’t always possible. If none of these tactics stop the dog from attacking, use your jacket, bag, purse, etc. to protect yourself. If you are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and tuck your head in and cover your ears and neck with your hands. You may need to seek medical attention if the bite is severe enough, but a lot of the time home remedies can serve as short-term fixes.
- Disinfect the area by washing it with soap and water.
- Apply an antibacterial cream.
- Cover the injured area with a clean bandage.
- If the injured area becomes red, swollen, warm, or painful, contact a medical professional
- Use a dry and clean cloth to apply pressure to the injury.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a few minutes or you begin to feel weak or faint, call 911 immediately.
- Even if the bleeding is under control, you should still seek medical assistance to make sure the injury doesn’t become infected.
If you were attacked by someone’s pet, share contact information with the animal’s owner, get proof that they are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, and notify animal control and the police of the attack so they can follow up with the owner and take steps to prevent their dog from biting anyone else. If the bite caused a serious injury, you may be able to seek compensation for any medical bills or other damages caused by the attack. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Givens Givens Sparks will fight for you in order to secure verdict or settlement in order to cover the costs of recovery. Fill out the form on our website to tell us about your injury, or call us at (813) 336-3348 to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers today.