What You Need to Know After Experiencing a Dog Bite
Dogs are loyal friends, loving family members, and dedicated workers. Just like people, dogs are individuals with unique personalities and life experiences that can affect their behavior, sometimes for the worse. Although no dog maliciously wants to bite a person, accidents happen. With some extra preparation, you can prevent a dog bite from happening. However, if you, someone you care about, or even your own dog is bitten by another dog, you should know what steps to take to keep everyone safe.
The most important thing to do after a dog bite is to seek immediate medical attention. Be sure to call 911 or see a doctor quickly. Additionally, make sure to:
- Write down any information you can recall about the dog. If you know the owner, obtain their information. If the dog is a stray or unfamiliar, record what the dog looked like, including any defining marks or behavior.
- Take photos of your injuries. Be sure to document the incident using as much evidence and detailed information as you can.
- Talk to witnesses and collect their contact information. You may require their experiences of the incident for legal purposes.
- Contact local animal services to report the dog bite.
- Consider contacting a lawyer to go over your legal options.
In many provinces you can sue the dog's owner for being negligent. Ontario has a Dog Owner's Liability Act, which states that if you have suffered damage, you do not have to prove that the dog's owner was negligent or that the behavior was caused by the owner. Additionally, the owner does not need to have any foreknowledge of the possibility of their dog biting people. The only thing that needs to be proven is that a dog bit or attacked someone, making the owner liable.
Of course, dog bite prevention will keep you, your family, and your pet safe and avoid painful injury. For your family's safety, consider the needs not only of your family but of the dog that you welcome into it.
- Choose a breed that is known to do well with family environments.
- Dogs that are aggressive should not be placed with small or young children.
- Boredom and frustration can often lead to dog bites, so remember that dogs are social animals. Provide enough activity, socialization with other dogs and people, as well as rewarding games to keep your dog mentally and emotionally stimulated.
When dealing with unfamiliar dogs, always approach with caution and ask the owner before petting or handling their dog. Some dogs are timid or easily startled, causing them to read friendly, well-meaning contact as threatening. Allow the dog to sniff your hand and approach you first if they are comfortable. Always avoid unfamiliar dogs when they are eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. Finally, never leave children unsupervised with a dog.
Dogs are wonderful companions that require care and understanding. Use this advice to keep your family-whether they walk on two legs or four-safe.