Not all dogs are friendly, sweet puppies who want to be cuddled. Some are mean and vicious. Certain dogs may be trained to attack and defend their home. Even the sweetest dogs you’ve known and loved for years may bite if they feel provoked.
We don’t want to believe a dog will bite us or someone we love, but it happens all the time. Any dog can be a biter, even if they’re usually very gentle.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
If you know why a dog might bite, you can often protect yourself and others from the possibility of it happening. Here are the most common reasons why a dog might bite:
- They feel provoked.
- A dog may be scared or startled.
- They feel threatened.
- The dog is protecting something: toys, food, puppies, their sleeping space, and even their owners.
- They’re sick or injured and don’t feel good.
- Dogs nip and bite during play. It’s fun for them, but not always for people.
- The dog may be older, grumpy, and lacking patience, especially for excited children.
- Their ears or tail have been pulled too often or too harshly.
- They haven’t learned “bite inhibition” yet so they bite too hard.
- Someone (a child, animal, adult) is running, and they view them as prey.
What To Do If You Get Bitten?
What you do after a dog bite depends on the severity of the bite. It may or may not break the skin and bleed. But assuming you’ve got an open wound after a bite, there are a few things you must do.
Provide First Aid
Use a clean towel or gauze to staunch the bleeding. Clean the bite would soap and water and apply a bandage with an antibiotic cream. Try to keep it elevated if possible.
See a Doctor
For open bite wounds, you definitely want to see a doctor. Dog bites can easily become infected, and rabies is a possibility for unknown dogs or those who don’t receive their shots. The doctor is going to want to know if you know the dog or its owners and if it has been vaccinated. They may ask if the bite was provoked or unprovoked.
Your doctor may or may not suture the wound, but they’ll very likely give you antibiotics. If the dog or its owners are unknown to you, you may have to get a rabies shot.
Get All Necessary Information
Before or after you go to the doctor, you’re going to need to get specific information as soon as possible. Some information will be shared with the doctor, but all of it will be used to help you file a report with your local animal control office.
- Names and addresses of the owner
- Names and contact information of any witnesses
- Dog breed and any known vaccination history
- Who was in possession of the dog when it bit you
- Photographs of the wound
Consult an Attorney
If the owners aren’t cooperating or are unwilling to assume any liability for their dog, you may need an attorney. The owners may do the right thing, but their insurance company will want to pay as little as possible. To make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you, talk to an attorney who specializes in dog bites.
When the insurance company calls, be careful about what information you share. Ask for their name, address, and contact information. Get the claim number and the name of the person on the insurance policy. Find out how much will be covered for medical expenses. But don’t offer to meet with them or make any promises, and definitely, don’t put anything in writing. They’re not on your side. Take the information they give you and share it with your attorney so they can help you.
You don’t have to be scared of dogs, but you do have to be aware of what they’re capable of. Sometimes it’s not a bad dog, but a negligent owner who’s really the problem. After a dog bite, get all of the information you can and talk to the authorities. If necessary, contact an attorney who knows dog bites to help you get the settlement you deserve.