About 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least half of dog-bite victims are children. Elderly adults make up another disproportionately large group of those seriously wounded by dog bites.
People of all ages come into contact with unfamiliar dogs. It is a smart practice for anyone to adhere to a few proven methods to avoid confrontations with aggressive dogs.
Ideally, an unfamiliar dog would be accompanied by its owner. This situation makes it easy for someone to ask the owner if the dog is friendly and if the dog might welcome an interaction. If the owner gives a green light, offer the dog the opportunity to sniff the back of your hand and become comfortable with you before you touch them.
If the dog is alone, it is best to play it safe and avoid contact, even if the dog seems approachable.
Still, in the absence of an owner, there are other ways to determine if the dog is a potential danger.
Do not approach a dog that seems agitated, scared, or hurt. If you are faced with a dog that is stressed, often you can tell just by looking at its stance or body positioning.
The following are some body-language cues that send a message that a dog may be likely to become aggressive:
If a dog seems ready to attack, stay calm and still. Do not yell or scream, which may excite the dog and cause it to become aggressive. Do not run, as a dog’s natural instinct would be to chase after you.
Try to avoid eye contact that the dog may interpret as a form of hostility. For the same reason, keep your hands at your sides to avoid being seen as a threat. Walk away slowly without turning your back.
If the dog lunges or tries to bite, try to put something in its path. If you have a bike with you or can reach a nearby garbage can, use it to act as a barrier between you and the dog. Any object that you have handy, such as a hat or a purse, may act as a shield to provide some measure of protection from an aggressive dog.
If you get knocked to the ground, roll yourself into a ball and cover your head, ears, and neck with your arms.
If you have been bitten, medical attention may be necessary. A tetanus shot may be recommended. If you can find the dog’s owner, ask if the dog is properly vaccinated.
Individuals who have been attacked by a dog should seek the legal advice of a professional to help them understand their rights. Contact the Eatontown injury lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. to help you get the compensation you are due. Contact us online or call 732-493-9400 for a free consultation.
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