Dogs may be man’s best friend, but even good, loyal dogs can give in to their basic animal instincts if they feel provoked – which is unfortunately common. According to the CDC, 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, and roughly 800,000 of those bites require medical attention.
No one expects a friendly dog to turn on them. But the reality is, no matter how well you know a dog or how warm it seems, it’s still capable of biting and causing severe injuries. If you are the victim of a dog bite, here are five essential steps to take to protect yourself and your community:
1. Identify the dog and owner
If you do not require urgent medical care, identify the dog who bit you and its owner if it has one and obtain their information. Ask the owner to give you their name, address and contact information and ask whether their dog is up to date on its vaccinations. If the dog doesn’t appear to have an owner, note where the attack took place and what the dog looked like.
2. Seek medical attention
If your dog bite is severe, you should call 911 or have someone transport you to emergency care to address the wounds. If the bite appears minor, you should still seek medical attention if the dog broke your skin to avoid infection. If the dog is a stray or isn’t up to date on its rabies vaccination, you may need to undergo a series of rabies shots.
3. File a report
After receiving medical care, you should file a dog bite report with your local authorities or animal control. If the dog in question has attacked or bitten before, it may be a threat to the public. Your report can also provide help to the next victim if the same dog attacks them. By filing a report, you can make sure there is a paper trail for the aggressive dog.
4. Gather evidence
After a dog attack, you should try to document and gather as many details as possible to help with your future claim. Take photographs of your injuries and the clothes you were wearing and the location of the attack. If the dog has an owner, ask for the dog’s licensing information and any previous aggression history.
5. Seek legal counsel
In California, a dog owner assumes fault for any dog bite incident even if it has never harmed anyone before. If a dog has bitten you or a family member, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Speaking with a qualified personal injury can help you determine your next steps.