Dog Owners Are Responsible for Their Dogs
Dog owners are responsible for their dogs whether they are at home, on a leash or on another person’s premises. Being bitten by a dog, even a small dog can be extremely painful causing bruising and lacerations that could require stitches. Most dog bites, fortunately, fall into the category of a “nip”, painful nonetheless and again can cause bruising and lacerations. Another type of dog bite is an “attack”. When an adult or small child is attacked by a dog multiple bites can occur causing hundreds of lacerations over all parts of the body including the legs, arms, neck and face. Lacerations in the facial area can create scarring and even the loss of an eye, nose or ear.
Know the Signs That a Dog Bite is Imminent
Did you know that smiling is a sign of aggression to a dog and can trigger an attack? It’s true. Dogs don’t recognize emotions such as human happiness or sadness, and even if they did such emotions would be over-ridden by survival instincts. When you smile at a dog you are showing a dog your teeth and to them, that means that you intend to attack them. Therefore, it is prudent to not smile at a dog and never show your teeth (particularly dogs that you are not familiar with). The same is true for looking a dog directly in the eye.
When is a Dog Bite Likely?
There are many situations where a dog is likely to lash out and bite a stranger and one should be aware and avoid them. One way that dog bites, scratches and attacks happen is when a stranger physically gets down to a dog’s level to play with them. Dogs are pack animals and when you get down and “play” or “wrestle” they may perceive you as just another “dog” trying to establish or reinforce dominance over them. If they are submissive all will be well. The dog will lay on its back and look to be petted. If the dog is a dominant alpha male then getting down to their level, or being at their level, like a child, could trigger an attack as the dog defends its status in the pack.
A dog bite or injury may also be likely to happen when a dog is being taken for a walk on a leash. When on a leash a dog doesn’t know that you are just minding your own business and walking peacefully in the other direction. The dog will view any approaching animal, human included, as a potential attacker on its master and will defend them by attacking you. This is especially true for dogs that have been bred over centuries for protection. A dog on a leash can also injure an adult or small child by tripping them. When a dog is being walked on a long leash, it can circle a person, wrap the leash around them, and then by returning to the owner, upend the person like a rug being pulled out from underneath them. The result can be a concussion or brain trauma by striking one’s head on the sidewalk, or more commonly, a broken hand, wrist, or arm when used to instinctively brace one’s fall. Senior citizens, in general, are more fragile and often experience a fractured hip or dislocated shoulder in addition to many other minor injuries or worse.
While any dog can attack you if provoked, certain breeds are more likely than not to react to your advance. Dogs like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls are purchases by many not only for companionship and to be loving pets, but also to provide protection to one’s home and person. Some are even professionally trained for this purpose.
No matter how you were bitten, tripped or attacked and no matter the circumstances, the owner of the dog is usually responsible for the safety of those it comes in contact with. If you have been bitten, scratched, tripped or attacked by a dog, call the dog bite lawyers at Shlesinger & deVilleneuve Attorneys, P.C.