Dog bites occur for many reasons, from a dog defending its territory to an aggressive stray on the street. Even a small dog can do damage and carry disease. If you or a friend or family member is bitten, there are certain steps you should take to ensure a good outcome. Here is what you need to know:
1. Get Contact Information
Speak to the dog’s owner and write down their contact information. You can establish whether the animal’s rabies shots are up to date. If the owner of the dog refuses to cooperate, or you can’t determine the owner, report the incident to the police. They may find the owner or contact animal control to capture it. Don’t try to detain the animal yourself.
2. Assess the Damage
If the wound is superficial, you may be fine just washing it with warm water and applying some antibiotic. When blood is drawn, or you’ve suffered one or more puncture wounds, it may be more serious. Wash it and try to stop the bleeding with a cold compress. See a doctor as soon as possible if an open wound seems serious, continues to bleed, or the bite marks are severe. For extensive damage, call 911 right away.
3. Observe the Wound
If the wound is infected, it may take a few days to show symptoms. Usually the tissue around the bite marks will become red and begin to itch. Rabies is especially dangerous because symptoms may take up to 90 days to appear following the bite. The rabies virus can spread through the muscles to the major nervous system. Early signs of rabies include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea, while more serious signs can appear as aggression, disorientation, and seizures. If the virus reaches the brain, it can be fatal.
4. Get Legal Help
Personal injury laws vary from state to state, but if you or a family member has suffered from a dog bite due to the owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. This could be from emotional stress, lost time from work, medical bills, property damage, permanent disfigurement, and more. Many homeowner policies cover dog bites, so you may be able to settle out of court. If you feel you’re due compensation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney like those from Snyder & Wenner, P.C.
Dogs may be simply acting on instinct, but any dog is the owner’s responsibility. If you or a child have been injured by one, you have every right to sue for damages.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.