We Americans love our pets. A multi-billion dollar industry has grown up on the strength of how we feel about our animals. Dogs are not going away anytime soon and we wouldn’t want them to. Nevertheless, it’s important to know and prepare for the unfortunate fact that each year, around 200,000 children are attacked or bitten by dogs. About 80,000 of these children require medical intervention. Dog attacks can be life-altering events leaving scars inside and out.
Also, we live in a world where fitness is king. Running and walking for exercise is as common as breathing, so there are bound to be unhappy encounters with dogs. Knowing how to interact with dogs should be an important part of your exercise program.
What can you do to keep yourself and your children safe from dog attacks? In this article we will offer a few pointers.
Avoid unknown dogs.
Even though the law in Georgia works on the premise that all dogs are good dogs until proven otherwise, we know that animals can be unpredictable. ANY DOG CAN BITE.
It’s important to recognize and to teach your children that, in order to stay safe, one should never approach any dog that is exhibiting the following behaviors:
- Chewing on a toy or bone
- Sleeping or trying to sleep
- Caring for puppies
- In a vehicle
- Behind a fence
- Tied or chained up
Move slowly if approached by an unknown dog.
Here are a few signals that indicate that a dog is in a dangerous or frightened condition. When this happens, move slowly and speak firmly but quietly. Never approach a dog when:
- His is tail is stiff – even if it appears to be wagging
- His body is tense and/or backing away
- His ears are laid back
- His fur is bristling
- He appears to be yawning
- The whites of his eyes are showing
- His teeth are showing
- He is staring intensely
Treat dogs gently.
If you live in an area where dogs are often left to run free or are not confined, don’t make the mistake of carrying a stick or other weapon. And don’t yell or threaten the dog. It will just make him more agitated.
- Stay calm
- Don’t run. The dog may be accustomed to successfully chasing away intruding cars, trucks, bicycles and anything else that moves. He sees this as a successful way to protect his territory. If a dog charges you, stop and stand very still. Face the dog and cross your arms. When he sees that you’re not going to run away from him, he may lose interest and walk away.
- Avoid eye contact with the animal – dogs see your staring behavior as aggression toward them.
- Speak to the dog firmly but in a calm voice. What you say doesn’t matter; the tone of your voice is what counts.
- If he keeps coming, turn your body keeping your back and side to him.
- You can “feed” an attacking dog to distract or change his direction, toss your shoe or jacket in his direction. Find something that can used as a shield in front of you for protection – a garbage can lid, an umbrella, or your backpack will work.
- If he pushes you down, curl up in a ball using your hands and arms to protect your head and face.
- When things calm down and it seems possible, begin to back away slowly, staying as calm and relaxed as possible. When you’ve put some distance between you, you should be able to go on about your business.
If you must live with such risks, you might consider purchasing dog deterrent products designed to stop an aggressive dog in its tracks. Pepper sprays and auditory repellents can work as both confuse and stun the aggressive dog. These, however, are not weapons to put into the hands of children since their use can lead to trouble in and of themselves. Better to train your little ones to avoid areas where aggressive dogs live.
Ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog, even one you know.
When you’re out and about and you see that you are about to encounter a leashed dog walking with his owner, understand that the dog might be very protective of his human companion and could react aggressively if you come too close. Always ask permission before you attempt to touch or pet the dog.
In the past few years, color-coded collars and leashes have become available to dog owners. These specially coded accessories are meant to give you information about the animal. A red leash or collar means, STOP – Do not approach. Deaf or blind dogs often wear white collars and walk on white leashes to indicate their special needs. An orange collar or leash says, “I don’t like other dogs” and blue means the dog is in training or is already a service animal. Green means, I’m Friendly. Colored bandanas can also be used as signals. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea never to approach any animal until/unless you ask the owner if it’s okay.
“Feed” an attacking dog.
If a dog moves aggressively toward you, give it something else to attract its attention, such as your jacket, book bag, or bicycle. As the dog deals with the object you have put before it, back away slowly; do not run. Any sudden movements will bring the dog’s attention back to you.
If knocked down, cover up.
If an attacking or playing dog knocks you down, you should roll into a ball. Tuck your knees into your stomach and bow your head and face toward your knees. Put your hands across the back of your neck and interlace your fingers. Lie still and be quiet. Let the dog sniff you. It will probably lose interest and leave fairly quickly.
Learn the signs of a potentially aggressive dog.
A dog will bite if it is startled, threatened or injured. Stand back from a dog exhibiting such signs as:
- Tensed body
- Stiff tail
- Pulled back head and/or ears
- Furrowed brow
- Eyes rolled so the whites are visible
- Flicking tongue
- Intense stare
- Backing away.
If bitten or attacked by a dog:
If, in spite of all your caution, you are bitten by a dog, it’s important you take first-aid measures as soon as possible.
- Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if further care or stitches are needed
- Report the attack to your local animal control officer
If you must pay for medical expenses, or if you suffer significant pain or suffering because of the attack you should certainly contact an experienced dog bite attorney. Dog attacks claims can be difficult to win in court, however when you are injured through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to recover for your losses.
It’s worthwhile to contact the dog-bite professionals at the Millar Law firm for a free case evaluation. We’ve been advocating for dog bite victims in Georgia for decades. Allow us to help you recover what you’ve lost. 770-400-0000