For many Americans, their dogs are much more than their best friends – they are family. Current estimates indicate that between 37 and 47 percent of all households in the nation have a dog and that there are approximately 70 to 80 million dogs in the country. With so many dogs in so many households, canines are a part of the American life and culture for all, including those who choose not to own a dog. Dogs and the safety around them affect everyone in the Phoenix area because they live in our homes, in our neighbors’ homes, use our parks, and walk our sidewalks and streets.
While dogs add much joy to the lives of many, they can also be the cause of extreme injuries or even death if a dog bite attack takes place. Each year, roughly 4.5 million dog bites take place and roughly 800,000 of those are severe enough for a victim to seek medical attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of every five dog bites becomes infected. Add to that the fact that dogs may transmit rabies, capnocytophaga spp. bacteria, pasteurella bacteria, MRSA, and tetanus to their victims and it is clear that the public in Maricopa County should not only be alert for dog attacks but should also take appropriate steps to prevent them whenever possible.
A dog attack should never happen if a dog is well controlled and if the victim acts in an appropriate and reasonable manner. But the reality of the situation is that victims continue to be bitten every week in the Phoenix area and that some of these victims will be severely injured as a result. Before you become a victim, know the following tips to avoid a bite so that you can remain as safe as possible:
- Keep Your Distance from Unfamiliar Dogs: Often, dogs feel threatened by the presence of humans that they do not know. Do not aggravate a stressed dog who is feeling this way by approaching it, touching it, or otherwise coming into contact with it. Instead, keep your distance and allow unfamiliar dogs their space just as you would allow a stranger on the street her space.
- Monitor Children Around Dogs: It is important to realize that even a dog perceived to be kind and gentle can bite when threatened, and this is often true when young children are around. Children lack the skills to understand how to treat a dog gently and how to realize when the dog is scared or upset, making it more likely that the children will be bitten by a dog. If your child is around a dog, always supervise the interactions, regardless of whether the dog is familiar to you.
- Watch for Cues: Often, dogs will display subtle hints before they bite. These hints should be noted and should encourage adults to back away, removing the threatening factor in a dog’s environment. If you hear a dog growling, see it bearing its teeth, notice it crouching in preparation to spring forward, or attempting to get away, do your best to remove yourself from the situation and those around you to decrease the chances of a dog bite incident.
- Stay Still: If a dog you do not know approaches you, maintain still and do not extend your arms or legs to the dog. Further, do not run or flee from the dog as that may lead the dog to chase and potentially attack you.
- Avoid Eye Contact: While eye contact is seen as a positive and friendly thing among humans, in the animal world, it can be perceived as a threatening or even challenging behavior. If you encounter a dog you do not know, do not try to stare that dog down. Instead, avoid eye contact and remove yourself from the dog’s presence when it is safe to do so.
Unfortunately, even if you do nothing wrong, you may become the victim of a dog bite incident in Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Tempe, or Chandler and you may suffer as a result. If that happens, know that you might be entitled to financial compensation for your damages and for the injuries you sustained including the medical bills you have incurred and will incur in the future.
The personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. have experience representing dog bite victims and if you have been hurt in an animal attack, we want to represent you as well. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to those who call us toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191 and we have a lawyer available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you.
If we represent you, there is no cost to you unless we make a recovery on your behalf and we advance all case-related expenses. If you have been hurt, call Abels & Annes, P.C. now and let us get to work for you.
Prior Blog Entry:
Broken Bones are a Serious Risk in Phoenix Car Accidents, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published January 28, 2016.