The Essential Facts About Dog Attacks, Bites, and Maulings
Approximately 63 million Americans have at least one pet dog. Since 2000, the percentage of people who have a pet dog has steadily increased by almost 22%.
Whether we have a dog or not, dogs have become more socially accepted in some public spaces, malls, stores, and even restaurants. Although most dogs are friendly and eager to make a new friend, there are some dogs that attack without justification.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites annually. There are over 70 million dogs that live in the United States. So, the number of dog bites that occur each year could be significantly higher as many dog bites go unreported.
Of course, not all dog bites result in hospitalization, but dog bites account for approximately 900,000 hospital visits per year. Also, dogs are responsible for 90% of all animal injuries in the United States. Children of ages 5 to 9 are at the greatest risk for suffering a dog bite injury. Each year, an estimated 25,000 dog bite victims require reconstructive surgery to repair the damage caused by a dog bite. In some cases, people tragically die from complications with an infected dog bite.
Why Are Some Dog Bites so Devastating?
A dog's mouth typically has several very sharp teeth. Their jaws are capable of breaking bones, tearing a muscle, and eviscerating skin. Additionally, dog bites can tear into and damage tendons, ligaments, and nerves.
What Should You Do If You Or A Loved One Suffered Injuries From A Dog Bite?
In the immediate aftermath of a dog bite, seeking safety is the highest priority. Injuries should be reported to the authorities. Additionally, you should:
- Consider seeking medical treatment. Many dog bites are not harmful, but they can do damage even if the skin of the affected area is not injured severely. Watch for signs of pain, redness, warmth, pus leaking, or swelling. Seek immediate medical attention if any of those symptoms present.
- Identify the dog and the dog's owner. The medical history of the dog should be assessed as well. The dog bite victim might need to start a rabies protocol if the dog does not have a history of rabies shots. Rabies can be prevented if doctors administer therapy shortly after the incident.
- Seek expert legal advice. Dog bite laws vary from state to state and can be very complex. Each state has laws regarding when a dog bite victim may file a claim and the length of time to file it. Missing notice requirements and deadlines will result in a forfeiture of the claim.
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