Dogs can be furry, cute and loyal companions. But dogs also bite about 4.5 million Americans each year, many of them young children. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, especially if the bite is near the face or neck.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, here are eight things you should do:
- Stay calm. Don’t try to catch the animal, especially if you have been bitten by a dog you don’t know. Take photos to document any injuries.
- Apply first aid and seek medical treatment. If it is a superficial wound, clean the wound. For puncture wounds, let the blood flow to cleanse the wound and then apply direct pressure to stem the flow. It’s important to see a doctor because dog bites can become infected, requiring antibiotics. Stitches may be necessary in some cases. Other medical conditions can also impact the treatment for a dog bite.
- Call animal control. If you have been bitten by a dog you don’t know, call animal control so they can catch the animal and determine if it has rabies. You may need to start painful rabies vaccinations if you can’t determine the rabies status of the dog.
- Find out if the dog has been vaccinated. If you have been bitten by a dog while the owner is present, exchange contact information so you can get proof of rabies vaccinations. Follow up with the dog’s veterinarian to make certain the animal’s rabies vaccinations are current.
- File a report. Contact the police and animal control about the bite to make sure the dog’s owner takes steps to make sure the dog doesn’t bite someone else.
- Determine why it happened. If you have been bitten by your own dog, try to figure out why it happened. Discipline the dog right away and practice the “no talk, no touch and no eye contact” rule. If your dog is suddenly aggressive, take the dog to the veterinarian to determine if there is a medical cause.
- Obtain insurance information from the dog’s owner. Many homeowner’s insurance policies cover the cost of medical treatment and other losses that result from a dog bite. The insurance company may call you. It’s important that you not sign anything or discuss a monetary settlement without first consulting an attorney.
- Contact a lawyer. You may need to seek legal remedies to pay for medical treatment and other losses that result from the dog bite. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and obtain the compensation you deserve.
- Cesar’s Way – What to do if you’re bitten by a dog
- WebMD – Dog Bites
- Insurance Information Institute – Average Number of Dog Bite Claims Falls in 2012; Claims Costs Still on the Rise, Increasing by More Than 50 Percent Since 2003