What To Do If You’re Bitten By A Dog

Dog Bite

Pet ownership in the United States continues to grow. According to the 2023-2024 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 66% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 86.9 million households. Of those, 65.1 million come home to the wagging tail of a dog. Unfortunately, that means the chance for a dog bite occurring has also increased— with more than 800,000 requiring medical attention and with children being the most likely victims.

  • Each year, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people in the U.S.
  • Almost 1 in 5 bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

Why do Dogs Bite?

One of the major reasons why dogs bite is that people, especially children, don’t know how to read a dog’s body language or know the proper way to respond. Since there is no guarantee that a pet’s owner has trained or socialized his or her dog, education is essential to keeping children safe from dog bites.

Teach kids to:

  • Beware of dog sign dog bite pet ownership chance for a dog biteStay out of a dog’s personal space, especially when eating or sleeping.
  • Avoid putting his or her face close to a dog’s face; that means no hugging or kissing.
  • Recognize when a dog may be showing signs of fear or anxiety.
  • Never approach a strange dog without the owner’s permission.
  • Never reach through a fence or car window to pet a dog.
  • Leave dogs alone when they have puppies.

Most importantly, teach kids what to do when a dog becomes unfriendly.

  • Stay calm. Do not scream, turn, or run should a dog begin to act aggressive.
  • Do not stare at the dog. Stand quietly with arms by the side. Raising the arms exposes the chest area.
  • Should an attack occur, the child should fall to the ground and curl up in a fetal position with their arms over their head, protecting the face, chest, and throat. The safest place for a dog bite to happen is the shin or forearm

Dog Bites: Life Altering Events for Kids

Dog bites can inflict serious damage. With kids, the majority of injuries occur to the neck and face and can result in visible scars and disfigurement. Dog bites are typically life altering and very traumatic events.

Depending on the type of injury sustained, your child may need ongoing medical treatment such as physical or occupational therapy or even trauma counseling long after the dog bite occurred.

In most cases, a pet’s owner is liable for a pet’s actions, meaning that you may be entitled to receive compensation from the owner or his or her insurance company for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Get Legal Help

attorney lawyer personal injury medical attention children victims

Obtaining the assistance of a personal injury attorney will help you cover all your bases.

  • Ensuring the event is officially documented with reports to the local health department, local animal services, and police
  • Having photos of the victim, the dog, and the scene of the attack
  • Gaining professional recommendations for trauma counseling
  • Negotiating a settlement or going to trial if necessary to obtain compensation for your child’s dog bite

Free Case Evaluation

At Nash & Franciskato, we understand dog bite laws and negligence factors that will help you recover compensation for your child’s injuries. Contact us at (877) 284-6600 and one of our experienced staff will provide you with a free, no-obligation case review of your case.

Start Your Free Case Evaluation.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published June 19, 2015. It was reviewed on March 29, 2023 and updated for content and accuracy.

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