Do you know someone who is afraid of dogs? Chances are they've been bitten once and have developed a fear of dogs called "Cynophobia." A sad fear to have since according to the 2007 US Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, there are about 72 million dogs in the US alone. And since they are perceived as "Man's Best Friend", you can expect to see one whenever and where.
Dog bites are also one of the most common causes of injuries in the United States; not only in children but also in adults. It is estimated that almost 5 million Americans get bitten every year; 800,000 of them would need medical attention; 368,000 are rushed to emergency rooms; and sadly, about 20 of them die.
This goes to show that we should still be careful when taking care of our dogs. They may be domesticated enough but they are still dogs and will bite when provoked. They are hunters by nature and are protective of their young and personal belongings, so you'd want to be careful when taking things from them, especially their pups.
But what do you do if you are bitten?
First aid of course – Allow the wound to bleed, if it is not excessively bleeding, and flush it with water. Thoroughly wash the wound with soap for about 5 minutes and let water run through it again. Pat the area dry then apply Betadine or Hydrogen Peroxide. These are painless ways to kill bacteria and prevent infection. Allow the medication to dry naturally and cover the wound with a sterilized bandage or gauze pad. After that, consult a physician for further check ups and observation.
Identify the dog – This is a very important step since the dog will have to be observed for signs of rabies. If the dog is a stray then you'll probably undergo a series of injections to prevent rabies. A painful process but much better than dying.
Report the incident to the authorals – Dog bites have legal implications and it is wise to have the police and animal control help in investigating the matter. Avoid pointless arguments with the owner since it will not help the situation.
Obtain the personal information of the owner – Make sure to get the owners name, address, phone number, vaccination records of the dog, and insurance provider if any. The police can help you with this.
Obtain the personal information of the witnesses – This is needed in case you pursue a physical injury lawsuit against the dog owner. It is also wise to have pictures of the wound taken immediately after being bitten. These will be useful in court as well.
Seek help from a reputable lawyer – Consulting a lawyer is important since the owner or their insurance provider may persuade you to sign papers that will free them from any financial liability. It is actually wise to avoid communication with the owner's insurance provider until you have a lawyer near you.
Different states have different rules when it comes to dog bites so it is better to familiarize yourself with these rules; and again, have a lawyer beside you to help you out in the process. I was bitten by a dog once and had to consult a new jersey dog bite attorney to help me out. Thankfully, my injury was not that bad and I did not develop Cynophobia; though I do get a little jumpy at times when in front of big dogs.