The above headline pops up at least once or twice each year around the country. Mia was a four-year-old girl who was attacked and killed by her own family dog in March 2014. Many are shocked by these types of recent stories of pit bull attacks in Louisiana. Dogs bite about 4.5 million Americans every year, half of which are children under nine (9) years old. When Hurricane Katrina abruptly forced many from their homes and caused extensive flooding damage, New Orleans saw an increase in their stray dog population. One out of every five dog bites causes an injury that requires medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For tips on how to approach a dog safely, see Tips for Approaching a Dog. Below are tips on what to do if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog.
1. Remove yourself from any dangerous situation. If you were attacked by a dog, make sure to get yourself to safety as quickly as possible. Do not try to catch, stop or hold the animal.
2. Once your safety is secure, obtain the contact information for the owner of the dog, if you do not know the dog. This will help you to follow up with the dog’s owner regarding rabies vaccinations and any injuries that the owner may be responsible for.
3. Take pictures. Photograph and document the scene of the bite, of the dog, and of any injuries or damages caused by the dog attack.
4. Assess the wound.
- Superficial wounds – If the skin has not been broken, and there is just a gash or scrape, clean the wound with running water, and then hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol. Apply a topical antibiotic and cover with a bandage.
- Puncture wounds – If the skin is punctured, clean out the wound with mild soap and cool water for five minutes. Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, as these can slow healing. Call 911 or your local urgent care clinic to begin a rabies vaccination right away. Although rabies is very rare in the United States, the disease can be deadly, so quick and proper care are required.
5. Contact Animal Control, the Police, and/or the owner. Animal control and the police should be notified of the incident so they ensure that the owner takes steps to prevent their dog from biting someone again. Animal control should also be contacted if the dog needs to be captured. Contact the owner to receive the rabies vaccination and veterinarian information for the dog.
6. Contact a personal injury or dog bite attorney, like the experienced personal injury and dog bite attorneys at Smiley Law to recover for any damages or injuries caused by a dog bite.