Dog Bite Injury

Tragic Fatal Dog Bite Injury a Reminder of the Potential Danger of Dogs

A four year old boy was killed on Wednesday after a pit bull attack.  The mother of the boy also suffered a dog bite injury.  Three pit bulls attacked the mother and her boy.  The boy and his twenty-four year old mother were visiting a friend in Kent County when the boy, who had been playing with the dogs, was attacked.

The mother suffered a dog bite injury on her arms as she tried to save her son.  Two repairmen at the house also tried to stop the attack.  They did not report a dog bite injury.  The boy was pronounced dead at the scene and the mother was taken to Kent general Hospital to be treated.

Dog bites happen more than you might think. In fact, 800,000 Americans suffer a dog bite injury and seek medical attention for dog bite injuries each year.

Aggressive behavior in dogs can make for a very dangerous situation for humans. You will often hear dog owner’s state that “their dog has never acted that way” and that “this dog behavior is not normal” after a dog bite injury occurs.

Most often a dog will display aggressive behavior when you enter the dog’s protective territory.   If a dog becomes territorial, you will see the dog with glazed eyes, teeth bared, and with fearful barking and growling.

How to Avoid a Dog Bite Injury

One of the only ways to defuse a dog attack injury is to leave the dog’s area.  Get out of eyesight as soon as you can.  Do not attempt to calm the animal to prevent a dog bite injury.  Restraining the animal will only make the aggression worse.

If a dog sprints at you, your instinct is likely to run to avoid a dog bite injury, however this is the worst thing that you could do.  Running may elicit a chase reflex, the same reflex triggered when a dog sees a cat or a squirrel run by. What you should do instead is face the dog and stand still, like a pole or a tree. Your arms can be folded in front of you so that you don’t accidentally swing them around.

Most dogs that race to you even aggressively do not have the intention of biting; rather the charge, bark and growl are just a threat to get you to go away. When you stand still instead of continuing to move, they bark and back away and if you step towards them they back away faster. So once you’ve stopped and they realize you’re not going to run away for them to chase, they will generally walk away on their own. But you can also back away slowly in a ho-hum, relaxed manner. Once you’ve built up some distance you can turn and continue on your planned route.

Some dogs run out towards you because they’ve just practiced barking at things that go by and when those people continue to pass, the dogs learned that barking and chasing work. They’ve done this so much without thinking that they have no clue why they are barking at you. They may actually want to play, but in their hyper-excited state, if you yell or swing your arms around, they will get more excited and just grab whatever is swinging in the same way they would grab a flailing squeaky toy. This is why it’s especially important to be completely still like a tree to avoid a dog bite injury from a charging dog.

But what do you do if you can’t hold still because you’re scared? If the dog starts jumping up on you still try to remain calm and keep your back to the dog so that the dog can’t get to your face. If the dog actually takes you to the ground, roll up in a ball with your knees bend and your hands around the back of your neck and hold as still as possible.

Advice from the Experts on Dog Bite Injury

The AAP reminds parents to never leave a young child unsupervised around any dog, even a pet well-known to the family. Very young children should be taught not to tease or hurt animals. And with school almost over for the year, children will be spending more time in parks, at friends’ homes, and other places where they may encounter dogs. They need to know what to do to minimize the risk of being bitten.   American Academy of Pediatrics

Children should be taught to never approach an unfamiliar dog. Infants and young children should never be left alone with any dog; interactions between children and dogs should always be monitored to ensure safety for both the dog and the child. Children should be taught to treat the dog with respect and not engage in rough or aggressive play.  American Humane Society

Most children love dogs and like to put their face up close to the dog’s face. Parents should never permit this,” said Dr. Joseph Serletti, president of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery. “Even the friendliest dog may bite when startled or surprised. Be cautious, once a child is scarred they are scarred for life. We hear this line all the time ‘The dog has never bitten anyone before’. A dog’s reaction to being surprised or angered is not predictable. American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery

How to Seek Damages from a Dog Bite Injury

Owners of dogs, not the breed or the individual dogs, are responsible when bites or attacks occur. If you live in the Philadelphia area, and have you suffered injuries after being bitten or attacked by a dog or another animal, it is important to know your legal rights.

Dog bites account for more than a third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability if your dog injures another person or damages someone else’s property. The best way to protect yourself is to prevent your dog from biting anyone in the first place. Insurance Information Institute

Dog attacks do sometimes result in time lost from work, medical bills, and suffering. Children (especially boys) tend to receive a disproportionate share of the bites.

The law responds to this phenomenon in different ways. First, all states have laws that make dog owners responsible, under certain circumstance, for injuries and damage their animals cause. Many states follow an old principle, rather misleadingly called the “one free bite” rule. Broadly stated, this rule says that if a dog injures someone, the dog’s owners aren’t legally responsible until they had reason to know that dog might cause that kind of injury. In contrast, other states have laws on the books (dog-bite statutes) that make owners liable no matter what they knew or didn’t know about the dog’s temperament.

Your ability to recover compensation depends on where you were bitten or attacked, as laws concerning animal and dog bites vary between states, counties and cities.  John Fox can assist you in determining your rights under these various laws, as well as help with insurance claims and requests for compensation.

Philadelphia does NOT have a one bite rule.  Philadelphia does have a law in place to prevent dog bites.  This law states that all dogs must remain on a leash.  If you are injured or bitten by an unharnessed dog,

Homeowner’s insurance does cover dog bite claims.  Dog-bite claims now account for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims – equaling about $1 billion in damages every year.

As the nation’s largest property and casualty insurer in the country, State Farm understands the damage that a dog bite can do. In 2012, the company paid more than $136 million dollars as a result of nearly 4,500 dog bite claims. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible owners. State Farm does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog a customer owns in the United States. Instead, we urge owners to be responsible with their pets.” State Farm Insurance

How to be a Responsible Dog Owner

Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs in any situation.  There are many different obedience class options, many at an affordable price.  Remember that dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of a letter carrier as a threat. Be sure to take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.  When a letter carrier does come to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash.  Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.  Make sure that your dog socializes with other dogs and people.


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