Dogs enrich our lives in many ways, but as much as they are friendly companions, they also can be dangerous if they bite. In Arizona, dog owners and caretakers are held responsible for dog bites. That can be comforting if you are the person who was bitten by a dog, or somewhat distressing if it was your dog that bit another person. Either way, it is important to be prepared and to do what you can to prevent dog bites.
Preventing Dog Bites
Taking Steps to Not Get Bitten
The best way to handle dog bites is to not get bitten. That means not approaching dogs you don’t know. If they seem friendly, double-check with the owner to make sure the dog is likely to be open to the interaction. Let the dog smell your hand before you attempt to pet it. If a dog approaches you, stand still, and if they knock you over curl into a ball to discourage any aggressive behavior. Looking at a dog directly in the eye may be interpreted as aggressive. If a dog is running loose, don’t look at them directly, but tell them firmly to go home.
It is important that dogs are comfortable and do not feel threatened in order to reduce the chance that they will bite. Aggressive behavior, even in play should not be encouraged. Running from a dog or making loud noises may make him feel defenses. Dogs are also on high alert if they are eating or sleeping, or if they are taking care of their puppies.
Keeping Your Dog From Biting Others
For the most part, dogs will treat others how they are treated, so be sure to raise them in a gentle, non-threatening environment and avoid aggressive play that may turn into real aggression. Make sure they are supervised and confined to your home and don’t let them run free off-leash where they can escape and get into trouble. Instruct children, guests and strangers to use care if they approach your dog, regardless of how friendly you believe your dog to be.
What to Do If You Are Bitten By a Dog
If you or your child is bitten by a dog, tending to the immediate wound or wounds tops the list of things to do. After that, the most important thing to do if a dog bites you or your child is to identify the dog and their owner. This will allow you to know what kind of hidden dangers may be included with the bite. First of all, you will need to determine if the dog is current on their rabies vaccination, but there are also other ailments that you may find yourself afflicted with after a bite including
- Capnocytophaga bacteria, which can contribute to infections in people with weak immune systems
- Pasteirella bacteria, common in dog bite wounds that cause swollen glands and joint problems for those with weak immune systems.
- Tetnus- a type of toxin that can cause paralysis, especially with deeper bites.
A dog bite is no joke. Even if it doesn’t look serious, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible.
You not only need to protect yourself from the immediate wound, but you need to protect yourself legally. That means treating it like any other type of accident and getting information from any witnesses, taking photos of the wounds and contacting a dog bite attorney.
Taking Action After a Dog Bite
In Arizona, if you want to take action after being bitten by a dog, there is a limited amount of time to do so. The statute of limitations is just two years, or in the case of a dog biting a child two years after that child turns 18. There is, however, a strict liability rule in Arizona, which means that the owner is liable for the bite, whether they had reason to suspect the dog could be potentially aggressive or not. If you are defending your dog as an owner, you will need to show that your dog was provoked or that the person bitten was trespassing at the time the bite happened.
For dog lovers, it can sometimes be tempting not to report a dog bite, but for the safety of the community, it is important that these incidents be reported. Once a dog is reported to have bitten someone, they will need to be quarantined for ten days. If they are current on all their required vaccinations, they can stay home. If they are not current, they must stay at the pound or at a veterinary hospital at the expense of the owner.
By law, the county will need to determine whether the dog should be considered “vicious” and may rule that proper warning signs are displayed or in some cases, an especially aggressive and dangerous dog may need to be put down.
Caring For Current and Future Injuries Caused By a Dog Bite
In many ways, dog bites are like many other personal injuries. They result in both immediate medical costs and may mean that the injured person has to take time off work, have extra expenses while they recover, and have an extended period of pain and suffering. Unless the dog owner can put up a strong case that their dog was provoked, they will be held financially responsible for these expenses.
At Petersen Johnson, we can help you keep track of all your dog bite-related injuries and promptly file a claim to get the compensation you deserve for your injury. To learn more, or to schedule a free consultation, contact either our Phoenix location or our West Valley location in Avondale at 602-910-4223.