Man’s best friend injures more than 4.7 million people every year, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sadly, some victims will die as a result of their dog bite-related injuries. According to the CDC, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest among children between the ages of 5 to 9 and injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls. As children age, the incidence rate decreases, however, dog bite attacks can happen to people of all ages. Just last year, a Belmont woman walking her dog at Barrett Park was bit on the finger by an Akita owned by another resident.
How can you prevent yourself or your child from becoming a dog bite victim? The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you don’t pet a dog – even your own – without letting the dog see and sniff you first. Keep in mind, the majority of dog attacks happen at home or in a familiar place. You should never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially if a dog is behind a fence or in a car. Also, don’t disturb a dog while the dog is eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies. Dogs can’t communicate verbally, so look for body language communication to determine whether or not a dog should be left alone or is in a friendly mood.
If you are approached by a dog you think may attack, resist the urge to run away and scream. A dog’s instinct will be to run after you, so remain motionless, with your hands at your sides and eyes above the dog’s sightline. Assuming a non-threatening position and avoiding eye contact will signal to the dog that you are not in a position to attack. Hold your position and the dog may lose interest in you and back off. If the dog does attack, grab anything you can – purse, jacket, backpack – to put between yourself and the dog. If the dog knocks you down, resist the urge to scream or roll around. Instead, curl into a ball, put your hands over your ears and remain still.
If you or your child is bitten by a dog, as difficult as it may be, try to remain calm. Examine the wound. If there is minimal bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or sterile gauze to stop the bleeding. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply a sterile bandage. If you cannot stop the wound from bleeding or the injury is severe, contact your doctor immediately to have the wound examined and treated professionally.
Dog bite attacks should be reported to the Belmont Police Department and the Peninsula Humane Society as soon as possible after the incident. If you or your child was the victim of a dog bite attack, contact a northern California dog bite injury attorney to learn if you can recover monetary damages for injury expenses.