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Protecting yourself after a dog bite

Florida residents aren't the only ones who love their dogs. Some surveys show that over one third of American families include one or more dogs. Dogs can be beneficial for children, those who are elderly and people who have few family members. They are also intelligent enough to provide meaningful services for those with physical or emotional disabilities.

If you are a pet owner, you know how calming it can be to have the affection and companionship of an animal. However, you also understand that a dog can be unpredictable. Once a dog shows hostility, it may be difficult to control. The evidence of this is over 4 million dog bites nationwide each year.

Who bites and who is bitten?

Aggression in a dog is not limited to certain breeds, although larger, more powerful breeds like Rottweilers, mastiffs and members of the pit bull family can cause far greater damage if they attack than a small aggressive dog.

The same people who may benefit most from having a dog — children and the elderly — are also the ones most vulnerable to injuries from bites. While the most widely publicized dog attacks are ones that involve a strange dog, you are more likely to suffer a bite from a dog you know.

What to do after a dog bite

While visiting the home of a friend or passing a neighbor's yard, you may encounter an aggressive or agitated dog. If the dog bites, there are steps to take to minimize the damage. The first, of course, is to protect yourself from further bites by having the dog isolated or seeking shelter from the animal. The next steps are critical:

  • Calling 911 for police and emergency medical technicians
  • Cleansing the wound thoroughly
  • Applying steady pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Remaining calm and still to avoid excessive blood loss

Infection, especially rabies, is one of the primary concerns following a serious dog attack, and authorities will need to confirm that the offending dog has its vaccinations up to date. Without medical intervention, rabies is always fatal, so seeking a doctor's attention is important even if the bite is not severe.

In addition to the risk of numerous deadly infections, dog bites can result in lifelong disfigurement, muscle damage, broken or crushed bones, or fatal injuries. A dog owner who fails to properly protect you from an aggressive or unpredictable animal may be held liable for your injuries, in which case, you could seek compensation for the damages you suffered.

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