Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but what happens in the rare case that they aren’t? Dog bites can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the animal is vicious, other times it’s simply skittish or territorial.
Either way, if you’re injured by a dog and their owner is at fault, you could be entitled to legal compensation.
The team at the Brown Law Firm is looking out for your best interest in every situation. Here’s how to protect yourself when you come face to face with a dangerous dog.
Identifying Dangerous Dogs
Here are a few tips you can use to identify dogs that may be dangerous to approach or get near:
Watch for Signs of Aggression
Aggressive dogs typically won’t hide it, especially from strangers and outsiders. It should be noted, though, that truly “aggressive” dogs are that way because that’s the way they were trained. Most dogs that seem aggressive are just territorial, protecting the space that they perceive as their domain.
When you come across an unfamiliar animal, especially on their turf, there are a few things you shouldn’t do:
- Don’t approach abruptly, if at all
- Ask the animal’s owner if you can attempt to pet it before reaching out
Trust Your Instincts
When it comes to situations where you could be put in danger, it’s almost always a good idea to trust your gut first and foremost. If a dog is barking continuously at you, or just looks angry or dangerous, a good rule to follow is to try to leave the area quickly and without drawing attention to yourself. A territorial dog may look for any excuse to attack anything that it perceives as threatening to its “territory”.
Even when a given dog isn’t actually dangerous, putting some distance between you and the animal ensures that you’re not put in harm’s way if there’s any doubt at all.
Don’t Be Fooled By Breed Stereotypes
There are certain breeds of dog that conjure up images of danger: Pitbulls and Rottweilers lead the pack, because of the way they’re portrayed in the media. There are more news stories about Pit bulls attacking children and innocent bystanders than any other breed, yet one study found that a person at random is most likely to be bitten by a Labrador Retriever.
That doesn’t mean you should let your guard down near any strange dog, no matter the breed. It’s just to say that you shouldn’t let your preconceived notions about which dogs are dangerous color your perception of the risk that a given dog poses to you at the moment. A Chihuahua, one of the smallest breeds, is just as likely to attack as a Great Dane, one of the largest. It’s important to keep your guard up.
Understand Where the Danger Lies
You may even be at risk in your own home. Remember, just because our dogs are our faithful pets doesn’t mean they’re incapable of causing injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of dog bites come from familiar dogs. Additionally, children are about two times more likely to suffer a dog bite than adults.
How to Act Around a Dangerous Dog
If you’re reasonably sure a dog is aggressive and/or threatened, you need to develop a safe exit plan that doesn’t put you at undue risk of personal injury. Remember, most of the time if a dog is behaving aggressively, it’s because it sees you as a threat to its territory. The quicker and more calmly you can exit the animal’s territory, the more likely you are to be able to make it out unharmed.
If the dog is approaching, do not run or make any sudden movements. Dogs and other animals perceive abrupt motion as threatening and may cause them to make a move.
Like with other aggressive animals, you should attempt to back away slowly, keeping your eyes on the animal without making direct eye contact. The key here is to try to strike a balance between threatening and overly submissive.
Sometimes it can be effective to command the dog to leave you alone. In a strong, deep voice, say “no” or “stop” or “go away” so that the dog understands that you’re attempting to avoid conflict.
Sometimes an attack is unavoidable. If a dog bites you or knocks you to the ground, protect the vital parts of your body: wrists, face, chest, etc. If a dog is attacking you, it may cease if you curl up into a ball and remain motionless.
What to Do if You’re Attacked by a Dog
The first thing to do is to take care of your injuries. Unless you are a medical professional, it is always advisable to seek medical attention. Dog bites can carry bacteria and parasites which can result in deadly outcomes if not properly treated.
Once your injuries are stable, you should see if anyone witnessed the attack. Sometimes accidents like these can happen so fast that you may not have a recollection of what happened.
This second part, while not as crucial to your health and personal safety, is key to ensuring that if there is someone responsible for your injuries, they provide the compensation due for the incident.
In South Carolina, a dog owner is liable for the damages caused by his or her dog biting someone.
Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Dog Bite
Dog bites belong on an extensive list of injuries that can and do happen because people do not properly monitor and control their pets. If you were injured by a delinquent owner’s dog, you need to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The dog owner’s liability can be proven in court by an experienced attorney, using everything from witness statements, to evidence collected at the scene, to re-enactments and other articles entered into civil cases that show that someone else is responsible for your injuries.
If you believe you have a case resulting from a dangerous dog bite or any other type of accident, we can help you build and file a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve from the responsible party. Call the Brown Law Firm to get started with a case review.