What Should You Do If a Dog Bites You?

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When a dog bites you, you need to act quickly. Dogs are animals and can be unpredictable and even dangerous in certain situations. Whether it’s a random dog you encountered in the street or a friend’s dog you’ve played with for years, you should take it very seriously.

The Center for Disease Control has reported that approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year. Of these bites, 800,000, or roughly 17%,  were serious enough that they required medical treatment.

In this country, one out of every 69 people is statistically likely to be bitten by a dog. Even if you haven’t been bitten, the information in this article may become important to you later on if you become a part of the statistics. Keep reading to learn what to do if you’re bitten by a dog.

Get to Safety

The most important thing to do after a dog bites you is to get out of there. Even if it was a previously friendly dog, you no longer know what it’s likely to do next if it’s already bitten you once. If it’s a dog you know and circumstances allow, restrain the dog and keep it away from you and anyone else in the area. If you’re dealing with a stray dog outside, you need to escape and get somewhere you’ll be safe.

Report the Attack

Once you’re getting the necessary medical attention, you should also plan to report the dog bite to the police. If the dog were wild in the street, animal control would need to act fast to find and catch the dog before anyone else is hurt.

You might feel guilty about reporting your neighbor’s dog to the police, but don’t only think of your neighbor’s feelings when making your decision. If a dog bites you, how do you know it won’t attack again? It’s possible that the dog has bitten others but avoided any official reporting so far. In such a case, you’re putting other people at risk by failing to report the incident.

Get Help

How bad is the bite? Seeking medical attention is important regardless of the severity of the bite to prevent disease or infection. However, you may not need emergency care if it doesn’t break the skin or if it stops bleeding with pressure in just a few minutes.

If the bite severely tears your skin or causes you to lose a significant amount of blood, you should call 911 immediately. Whatever the condition of the injury, you should get assistance from people around you so that you’re not trying to treat your wound on your own.

Check with the Dog’s Veterinarian

Another critical concern to have on your mind is a possible infection or disease the dog might be carrying. If the dog belongs to someone you know, ask about their vaccination record and ensure that they are up to date with their rabies shots. If a stray dog attacked you, you might have to pay for some vaccines for yourself instead, just in case.

Keep a Record

Make a meticulous record for yourself of all the costs and problems you face as a result of the incident. If you have to deal with substantial medical expenses or lost wages, you will need that record to prove your damages in your legal claim.

Dog bite laws are made on a state level. If you’ve been bitten, you’ll want to look into the laws regarding this in your state. For example, one state’s statute of limitations may require you to file a dog bite lawsuit within one year after you were bitten, while another state may have a six-year window.

Always remember that you should assume every dog is dangerous until the owner says it is okay to approach it. Petting a stranger’s dog without permission is inviting a dog to bite you. Even dogs that were previously believed to be safe can bite. No animal is completely predictable, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution.