About 1,000 people in the U.S. require emergency treatment for dog bite injuries every single day. For the safety and well being of you and your family, it is important to know what to do when you encounter a threatening dog.
First, respect a dog’s personal space and never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who is tied up or in a car or truck bed. Do not pet a dog without first letting the dog see and sniff you. Approach dogs slowly and look for signs that might mean the dog is scared, hurt or sick.
One of the best ways to find out if a dog is friendly is to simply ask its owner. If there is no owner around and you find a dog by itself, be more cautious when approaching the dog or stay away from the dog entirely.
According to the Humane Society, signs that a dog might be dangerous include pulled-back ears, a tense body and, of course, growling. When putting space between yourself and a dog that might bite, never turn your back on him and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you.
Never lower your face toward a strange dog, even if they seem friendly at first. Do not bother dogs that are sleeping or eating.
In certain cases, such as attack victims who are children or elderly, no advice on what to do during a dog attack can help. But, sometimes, knowing what to do could save your life.
First, there are actions you can take before a dog attacks that might prevent a full-on attack. Again, look for the warning signs that a dog is about to attack. Read the body language of the dog. If a dog is approaching you and you think it is unfriendly or going to attack you, remember to remain still and do not run away.
When a dog sees a person run from it, the person can be viewed as prey and the dog may chase you down — this is a natural instinct for most dogs. Instead, the Humane Society recommends remaining motionless with your hands at your sides, and avoiding eye contact with the dog (which can be viewed by the dog as threatening). If the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until you are in a safe location.
If the dog does attack, try to get something between you and the dog. You need to protect yourself from its teeth and powerful jaws. The point is to “feed” the dog anything that will keep it from biting a part of your body, according to the Humane Society. You can use a purse, a jacket or anything within reach.
If the dog begins to bite you, or if the animal latches onto your leg or arm, use your free limbs to either kick the dog’s face or strike at its eyes, nose or throat repeatedly, Real World Survivor recommends. If possible, use your size advantage against the dog. Kick, knee or elbow the midsection or throat of the dog if possible. Try to remain standing as you are more vulnerable if the dog gets you onto the ground.
If you do fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
Dogs are widely known as man’s best friend, but that is not to say they cannot be dangerous. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dog. Stay away from strange dogs and know what the signs are of an unfriendly dog. If you are attacked by a dog, try to remain standing and get something between you and the dog. Fight back if a dog is biting you and call for help.
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A dog bite can happen when you least expect it. On April 13, 2014, an elderly Connecticut woman was walking down the road when a large pit bull charged from its owner’s home and attacked her. Neighbors rushed to her aid and began hitting the dog with the woman’s cane and a baseball bat. She sustained severe leg injuries and eventually died in the hospital weeks later. A 2009 report on dog attacks shows that pit bulls accounted for 59% of fatalities caused by dog attacks in the U.S. from 2006 to 2008, the most of any breed.
In March 2014, a Texas woman was feeding her cats in her backyard when she was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. She was bitten on the face, back, arms and legs. Unable to recover from her injuries, she died in the hospital a short time later. Again, this is a case of an unprovoked dog attack. In cases of unprovoked dog attacks, the dog owner can be held liable.
Connecticut has different laws dealing with problem dogs and dogs who have bitten people. The owner or keeper of a dog that bites, attacks or causes damage to a person’s body or property, with limited exceptions, is liable to the injured party.
Exceptions include cases of trespassing or inciting a dog by teasing or abusing it. You don’t have a case if you’re breaking into someone’s home and are attacked by their dog, for example. But if you are minding your own business and are attacked, the owner is responsible.
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