It’s a cliché that dogs are man’s best friend. They serve as companions, and can protect us. However, dogs can bite—and at times unexpectedly—and those bites can be deadly.
Serious and fatal dog bites have consistently been found in the news nationwide. New Jersey newspapers reported that a 115-pound bull mastiff broke loose from its chain in March 2014, and mauled two teenage boys, killing one of them. Neighbors told authorities that the dog was mistreated and often left outside in harsh conditions. The incident happened a month after two pit bulls mauled a 10-year-old boy who had been left alone with them.
Dog attacks killed 32 people in the United States in 2013, according to DogBites.org, a national group that dedicates itself to reducing serious dog attacks. Experts recommend what you can do to prevent a dog bite and what to do if attacked. Prevention begins with choosing a dog breed that is compatible with living with a family. Other advice includes:
- Never leave dogs alone with infants and small children, no matter how safe you believe the situation to be.
- Provide proper socializing and appropriate training so the dog will know how to behave around people.
- Do not approach a stray or unfamiliar dog, especially if the owner is not in sight.
- If the owner is present, ask for his or her permission before petting the dog, even if the dog appears cute and harmless.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog while it is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
If a dog bites you or your family members, take the following steps:
- Share names and contact numbers with the dog’s owner to obtain proof of rabies vaccinations from them.
- Gently clean the bite wound with antibacterial soap and water as soon as possible, and seek medical attention if necessary.
- Notify Animal Control in your area, or other authorities who may need to know.
As responsible citizens, it is important to remain alert about dog attacks year round. You might have a legal case in the event of serious injury or death if the dog’s owner were irresponsible, such as letting it roam in a park or other public place without obtaining a dog’s license or letting necessary vaccinations lapse.
If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, or seriously injured in a severe dog attack, a New York attorney who has a successful reputation in the area of personal injury law will best assist you to seek the compensation you deserve.