“When a dog bites a man that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news,” as the famous phrase goes. And it is true: dogs do bite people, and far more often than you might think.
The CDC reports that there are 4.5 million dog bites each year in the United States, or about 1,000 per day. Dogsbite.org reports that there were 42 fatalities in 2014 alone as a result of dog bites, and 19 of those fatalities were children.
While no one wants to believe Fido is a bad or vicious dog, there are dangerous dogs out there. However, the most important thing to remember is that it is not always the bite that causes the most harm but rather the ensuing bacterial infection.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, dogs’ mouths are not clean. They harbor bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida and can lead to endocarditis or meningitis if left untreated.
While dog bites are not 100 percent avoidable, there are four safety tips that can help you avoid a damaging bite.
- Stay calm and stand still.
- Curl into a ball if the dog knocks you over.
- Tell the dog’s owner or animal control if a dog is behaving oddly or overly aggressive.
- Stay up to date with your tetanus shots.
If you are attacked by a dog, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. Be sure to wash and cleanse the wound and apply antibiotics. Cover the wound with clean gauze or a bandage. Make sure to capture the dog if it is unknown whether the dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations. Photograph your wounds and document in writing what happened when you were attacked. Find any video of the attack if you can.
Minnesota is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means whoever owns or harbors the dog is responsible. It is not an issue of negligence. If you were not trespassing and were acting “peaceably” when you were bitten you may have ground for legal action and may be able to recover damages.
If you or a family member is bitten by a dog, ensure that your rights are protected. Talk with an attorney with experience in dog bite litigation to ensure that you receive compensation and that all of your medical costs are covered.