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Dog Bites: How to Avoid Them and What To Do If You Are Bitten

 Posted on April 04,2016 in Dog Bites

dog bites, San Jose dog bite lawyerAll animals have a tendency to be unpredictable, no matter how well trained or gentle natured. This remains true for dogs, which of course are one of the top companions chosen to live in the homes of their human counterparts. Unfortunately, dogs do have it in their nature to bite for several different reasons. This leads to thousands of injury claims annually. How do we avoid such incidents from happening? If they do happen, how should dog bites be dealt with medically and legally?

Why Do Dogs Bite?

If you have seen a premium dog food commercial within the last couple of years, you may have likely heard that dogs are related to wolves. This is actually very true. Furthermore, although they have been domesticated, there is still the wild animal instinct inside, especially under extreme circumstances. Some reasons a canine may strike out are:

  • Poor training;
  • Protecting its surroundings or its “pack;”
  • Fear;
  • Aggression and anger;  
  • Illness and pain;
  • Prey instincts; and
  • Herding instincts (rounding up the stray pack members, i.e. children).

Similar to humans, it is entirely possible that a dog could just be having a bad day and may attack the first person who looks at it wrong. We should always be mindful to never approach an unfamiliar dog. If you choose to do so, approach with caution and always ask the owner's permission first. However, dogs rarely bite without giving warning signs first.

Read the Signs

The signs dogs give are fairly universal. When they are happy, their tails wag (or their entire back half if their tail is ‘docked’). Their bodies are loose and carefree. Their ears are relaxed and they almost have a smile on their faces. As recognizable as a happy, friendly dog is, you should also be as familiar with recognizing the signs for an unhappy dog. Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Rigid body;
  • Dog stands firmly with legs in wide position with its head lowered watching intently; or
  • Dog shows its teeth in a snarl.   

These are signs of imminent danger and you should back away slowly (with your body facing the dog but not in an aggressive manner). Other signs of a dog's discomfort include:

  • The dog removes itself from the situation;
  • He or she hides behind the owner or a stable object;
  • Tail between legs;
  • Rolls on back in a submissive manner (not just for a stomach rub);
  • Ears back or sideways; and
  • Rapid panting when it is not hot outside.

All of these signs indicate that, if pushed further, the situation may result in a dog attack. 

What to Do If You Are Bitten

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, the very first thing you should do is take care of yourself. Get away from the dog by any means necessary, stop any bleeding and seek medical attention. If the owner is present, be sure to get their contact information. If they are not present, collect all of the information you can safely collect about the dog (color, approximate weight, breed, collar color, etc).  If you can safely do so, secure the dog in an area where it may be collected by the owners or by animal control services later. If you cannot safely do so, just get yourself to a safe location and let animal control services know where the incident occurred and give a thorough description of the dog.

After you have sought medical attention and have put the dog where it needs to go, you need to immediately write down all of the events that have happened. You should also make a detailed list of the medical expenses endured so far. Next, contact a lawyer immediately. The sooner, the better, as an experienced lawyer will be able to guide you through step by step what you need to do. You may need to contact the police to file an incident report, and to provide the detailed list of events and medical treatment to the owner of the animal. Dog bites can result in lifelong injuries and damages and it is possible that you will need to be compensated for time lost at work in addition to your medical expenses. California takes animal attacks seriously and the responsibility is strictly on the pet owner.

If you or a loved one has been attacked or bitten by a dog, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. While many claims can be settled out of court and may never see the inside of a courtroom, you will want an advocate on your side for the duration of the process. Choosing an experienced animal bite lawyer can make the difference between suffering lifelong injuries without any compensation or getting the justice you deserve. If you would like to speak with an experienced San Jose dog bite lawyer, contact John J. Garvey, III today at 408-293-7777 for your free initial consultation. We are a personal injury law firm with more than 45 years of experience helping people get the compensation they are owed due to someone else’s negligence.


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