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Dog Bites: How to Avoid Them
What do scratches, puncture wounds, torn skin, pain, psychological trauma, and disfiguring scars all have in common? They’re all potential results of when a dog stops being “man’s best friend” and turns into his worst nightmare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, half of these are children.”
In some of these cases, the attack happens so fast it is unavoidable. In others, however, the incident could have been prevented if the victim had known what to look for.
Tips for avoiding dog bites
When it comes to how they want to be treated, dogs aren’t so different from people – both want respect. With that in mind, here is a list of behaviors to avoid if you want to remain bite-free:
Respect a dog’s personal space (just like people, dogs can become alarmed if you get too close without their permission).
Never approach a dog you are unfamiliar with, especially when the owner is not present.
Never let a young child approach a dog alone.
Do not approach a wounded dog.
Don’t pet a dog without letting it see and sniff you first.
Don’t disturb dogs when they are eating, sleeping, chewing on a bone, treat, or toy, or caring for their young.
Always assume that a strange dog will view you as a threat and proceed accordingly.
Remember, just because dogs are domesticated doesn’t mean they are no longer animals, and that means a certain amount of unpredictability must be assumed.
Dogs speak body language
Contrary to what Disney movies and fairytales would have us believe, dogs don’t have the ability to talk, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating with us all the time – using their bodies. The ability to read a dog’s body language is crucial. The Humane Society lists the following as signs that a dog could be feeling threatened or may lash out:
Pulled back head and/or ears
Eyes rolled so the whites are visible
What to do if you think a dog might attack
According to the CDC, children ages 5-9, male adults, and people with dogs in their household are most at risk of being bit by a dog.
If you are approached by a dog that you think might attack, hedge your bets for getting away with the least damage by following the Humane Society’s protocol:
Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
Minnesota Dog Bite Law
Fortunately for the injured, Minnesota has a strict and clear-cut law regarding dog bites. Statute 347.22 states:
“If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained. The term “owner” includes any person harboring or keeping a dog but the owner shall be primarily liable. The term “dog” includes both male and female of the canine species.”
What to do if you’ve been attacked by a dog
If you or a loved one has been injured or bitten by a dog or another kind of pet – seek medical care immediately and make an accurate documentation of your injuries. Report the incident to a local animal care and control agency. Then, contact Meshbesher & Spence. Our experienced Minnesota attorneys will make sure that you are compensated fairly for the traumatic attack you’ve endured.
Note: Even if you were not bitten, but rather were knocked down or fell as the result of a pet’s actions, and were injured, the pet owner may be held responsible for your injuries.