Have you (or someone you know) been bitten by a dog?
Statistics published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that more than four million dog bites are reported each year in the U.S. Nearly 20 percent of them are serious enough to require medical attention. Medical treatment can range from a few stitches and an antibiotic to broken bones, torn muscles, and even plastic surgery. Sometimes there is permanent physical damage. There can also be emotional and psychological damage.
What should I do?
Many people are extremely hesitant to approach the dog owner about their injuries. Most of the time the dog owner is someone we know, a close neighbor, or maybe your child’s friend’s parents. It’s natural to feel that hesitancy, but you do need to get some basic information about the dog. If you have called the police, paramedics, or Animal Control, they will get that information for you.
Reporting the bite
There are several reasons reporting is a good idea:
- You need the dog’s vaccination history
- The dog may need to be quarantined
- There will be an official report of the incident
- Any relevant evidence will be collected and preserved
- The dog’s bite history can be requested
Many people hesitate to report a dog bite. Of course, if your dog has bitten someone in your immediate family, you don’t need to call Animal Control or anyone, unless you think the dog might be sick, acting aggressively or out of control. If the dog has bitten a family member and you have no concerns about rabies, then your best move is probably just to take your child to the doctor, have the wound or injury treated. After that, keep a very close eye on your dog for further behavior problems.
However, if someone else’s dog has bitten you or your child, there are very different concerns! In this case, assuming the injury is more serious (if the skin has been broken), then you SHOULD make an official report of the bite, for all of the reasons listed above. Even if the dog owner is your friend or neighbor. If Animal Control gets involved, you don’t have to feel responsible for any consequences there might be for your neighbor or her dog. Once the call is made, then they can take over any decision-making for you.