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Are Dog Bites Dangerous? Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Dog Bite Questions

dog bites

Are dog bites dangerous?

A national study conducted several years ago revealed that dog bites affect nearly 5 million people in the U.S. each year.   The same study reported that 946,000 dog bite victims end up receiving treatment in the hospital.  Based on these numbers, it is clear dog bites are dangerous and remain a public health concern in our country.

Do Dogs Bite Without Warning?

All dogs, regardless of breed, can bite. The severity of the injury will usually depend on the dog’s temperament, the victim’s condition, and the type of aggression.  You can tell whether a dog is about to bite by looking at its body language.  Some warning signs may include:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Puffed cheeks
  • Crinkled brows
  • Repetitive yawning
  • Rigid, still posture
  • Grinning
  • Lip licking
  • Excessive salivation
  • Threatening bark
  • Pulling back of ears
  • Tail pointed high, wagging
  • Raised fur
  • Lifting of the lips while on pause
  • Steady gaze
  • Eyes mostly white

A dog bite may be sudden, but it is a common behavior for dogs to show these warning signs before they bite. Often, the bite is their final attempt to show that they are agitated.

To the owner’s watchful eye, such actions are perceived as uncommon. Nevertheless, there may still be a chance to calm the dog, attach or hold the leash, move the intended victim away, or create a distraction before the attack. This is what makes dog bites preventable. 

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Dogs bite due to different reasons. The factors that cause aggression in dogs often stem from various triggers, for example:

  • An intruder has stepped into its territorial boundaries
  • The dog felt the need to protect its owner or family
  • Someone took hold of the dog’s possession (food, bowl, toys)
  • Something or someone caused fear or stress
  • When injured or in pain, the dog becomes sensitive and aggressive
  • The presence of other dogs may cause pack mentality

Some dog breeds can be unpredictable and may show unreasonable biting behavior. Therefore, people who intend to become dog owners must choose the breed carefully if they want to avoid dog bite liabilities.

Which Dogs Bites the Most?

Based on reports, the “unknown” breed is on the top of the dog bite list. But who are these dogs? An article from the Journal of the Applied Animal Behaviour Science revealed a surprising fact: small dogs lead in canine aggression. These are the ones who get angry quickly and will bite both strangers and their owners when triggered. According to this article, the most aggressive dog breeds are:

  1. Dachshund
  2. Chihuahua
  3. Jack Russell Terrier

Although these dogs bite a lot, they rarely cause significant damage. Such small bites may happen more often without serious injuries, so they go unreported. 

What Dogs Bite the Hardest?

Which dog bites are dangerous? Certainly, these are the bites that come with a strong, hard force that brings pain and serious injuries to victims.

Years ago, a group of health researchers used 15 years of data collected from dog bite victims. They evaluated the severity of injuries and calculated each dog’s bite risk. What they found out can help future dog owners assess the risks of owning specific breeds:

  1. Pit bulls scored the greatest number of reported bites that led to hospitalization (22%)
  2. Mixed breeds are second, with their frequent bites that needed medical treatment (21.2%)
  3. German shepherds also ranked high, with their severe bites that also caused the injury (17.8%)

The study concluded with these three breeds due to their high rate of biting that mostly resulted in severe tissue damage.

It is important to note, however, that there are other breeds to look out for too. The Great Dane and Akita breeds, for example, do not bite as much. But when teased or provoked, these dogs can cause significant injuries. Likewise, even small dogs can hurt babies and little children seriously when placed in similar circumstances. 

Can Dog Bites Make You Sick?

Severe dog bites are dangerous and can cause significant injuries. Nerve damage, bone fractures, and deep tissue wounds can bring long term effects to the victim’s health. In addition, the mental and emotional trauma caused by dog bites is also inevitable.

Do dog bites get infected? Yes, puncture wounds and torn skin pose risks for infection. Although cleaning the wound may reduce the presence of bacteria, it is always better to see a doctor. Equally important, dog bite victims should consider getting anti-tetanus shots and anti-rabies treatment to fight possible infections.

Can a dog bite cause rabies? Yes, dog bites can cause rabies. However, if you are bitten by a dog in the United States, there is very little chance of contracting rabies. According to the most recent rabies report from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the majority of rabid animals come from wildlife. Rabies cases in the US accounted the following:

  • Bats 33%
  • Raccoons 30.3%
  • Skunks 20.3%
  • Foxes 7.2%
  • Cats 4.9%
  • Dogs 1.3%
    Accounted Rabies Cases in the US

Thus, a dog bite victim would get rabies in the US if the dog wandered near these wild animals. In fact, because rabies spreads easily through saliva contact, the slightest possibility of getting infected is still there.

What Should You Do When a Dog Bites You?

When a dog tries to bite or attack you, the initial response would be to escape. However, if you cannot move away to a safer place, a dog behavior expert recommends the following:

  • Try to remain calm. Running away will only trigger the dog to chase you.
  • With caution, move back slowly until you reach a safe distance.
  • If the dog jumps on you or knocks you down, curl up like a ball with your hands covering your neck, and your face hidden behind your knees.
  • Do not attempt to hit the dog with anything, as it could only make the dog bite attack more dangerous.
  • Use your bag, umbrella, or anything that can serve as a shield between you and the dog.

However, if the dog succeeded in biting you, then leave the scene of the incident to prevent further injuries. After the dog bite, do these things right away:

  1. Take a photo of the bite. You will need this for evidence.

  2. Get first-aid treatment. Wash the bite wound with soap and running water.

 3. Apply a topical antibiotic to the skin, then wrap it in a sterile cloth or bandage.

 4. Get the owner’s insurance information and ask about the dog’s vaccination records.

  5. See a doctor within 24 hours after the bite. You will need tetanus shots to prevent infection.

6. Gather witness accounts to support your future claims.

How can you avoid dog bites?

According to dog behavior experts, these are some ways to prevent dog bites:

  • Since they are the usual victims of dog bites, do not leave young children unattended in the presence of dogs. Always be cautious when kids play with pets.
  • Be wary of unleashed dogs inside a yard. The vicious ones usually attack unfamiliar people. This is why almost 6,000 postal service employees get bitten by dogs every year. Remember this when visiting dog owner friends and relatives.
  • Do not approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, or nursing puppies.
  • Never pet or touch a sick or injured dog. Pain causes dogs to become aggressive.
  • A dog’s bark or growl may mean that it is not comfortable with your presence. Leave it alone.
  • Walk away if you happen to come across 2 or more dogs on the street. Dangerous dog bites become worse when triggered by packs.

Should dog bites be reported?

Yes, within 24 hours. You should inform your local animal control center about the dog bite. Doing this will update the authorities on the presence of aggressive dogs in your area. Furthermore, if certain control measures are already enacted, reporting means doing your part in making your community a safer place.

Here are the offices where you can report dangerous dog bites in Arizona:

Apache Junction Animal Control  (480) 983-4405
Avondale PD/Animal Control (623) 333-7345
Cochise County Animal Control Division (520) 803-3550
Cococino Animal Management (928) 679-8756
Gila County Animal Regulations Enforcement (928) 425-5882
Graham Animal Control Facility (928) 348-6676
Greenlee County Animal Control (928) 865-2072
La Paz Animal Shelter (928) 669-2281
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (602) 506-7387
Mesa Animal Control (480) 644-2268
Mohave County Animal Control (928) 768-3125
Navajo County Animal Control (928) 524-4266
Peoria PD/Animal Control (623) 773-8311
Pima Animal Care Center (520) 724-5900
Pinal County Animal Control (520) 509-3555
Santa Cruz Animal Control Department  (520) 761-7860
Surprise PD/Animal Control (623) 222-4000
Wickenburg PD/Animal Control (928) 684-5411
Yavapai County Sheriff, Animal Control (928) 771-3282
Yuma Animal Control Services (928) 373-4795

Immediately, the animal control center will investigate the biting incident. In severe dog bite cases, the officer will take the dog to a quarantine facility to observe its viciousness. Subsequently, if the dog is assessed as dangerous, it may be euthanized for everyone’s safety. On the other hand, some local shelters do not kill dogs and may opt to rehabilitate their behavior afterward.

Can I get compensation for a dog bite?

Yes you can, although not all dog bite victims receive compensation for their injuries. There are instances where dog owners refuse to provide their insurance information. More often, insurance companies resort to all sorts of defense mechanisms to avoid payouts. In comparative fault states, you may even be partly blamed for the dog bite incident.

No matter how exhausting the chase may be, you have the right to be compensated for your dog bite injuries. This is why you need a dog bite lawyer to assist you. 

Is the owner liable for the dog bite?

It will depend on the state where you have been bitten. If the dog bite incident happened in Arizona, here are some facts that an Arizona Dog Bite Lawyer would tell you:

  1. All dog owners in Arizona are liable for any damages inflicted by their pets. As written in the state laws, “Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted. “
  2. You are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and loss of income if you have missed work due to the dog bite.
  3. If you did not provoke the dog to attack you and your presence is lawful at the time of the incident, then you have a valid reason to file a claim. As stated in Arizona dog bite law,  “The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of its viciousness.”
  4. Within one year of the dog bite incident, you can file a legal claim against the owner of the dog that bit you. You only have one year to do this according to the statute of limitations in Arizona, or else your dog bite case might be dismissed. 

Are Dog Bites Covered by Insurance?

Homeowners’ insurance policies normally cover the damages caused by pet dogs. It is a case-to-case basis, where dog breed coverage falls into different categories:

Are dog bites covered by insurance

  • All dog breeds – Yes, there are insurance companies that sell policies to homeowners with dogs, regardless of breed.
  • Restricted breed list – Some insurance companies provide a specific breed list to be excluded from the coverage. But, they may provide coverage with an additional policy, or entirely deny coverage for the dog breed.
  • Dog liability policies – This allows homeowners to increase their premium, in order to achieve adequate coverage for dog liabilities. Some companies would allow this additional coverage, if the dog belongs to a certain breed, but does not have a bite history yet.

Consequently, victims of dangerous dog bites can hardly find justice due to breed restrictions. Most insurance policies refuse to cover the expenses caused by the bite.

On the contrary, what if the dog bite came from a mixed breed? For instance, if the dog’s vicious breed is only a part of its DNA, it may still be denied liability. Therefore, you need our skilled Arizona Dog Bite Lawyer in such a complicated situation. Our experience in dealing with similar cases will help you receive fair compensation.

What is the average payout for a dog bite?

In the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute, Arizona ranks 14th of among all the states in terms of dog bite claim values.

The average payout is $45,811.22 per dog bite victim. Thus, over $18 million of dog bite claims had been paid by insurance companies throughout Arizona. Furthermore, even if the owner has no insurance, you can still file a lawsuit for your injuries. In other words, the owner will have to pay for the damages using his own resources.

In conclusion, it is fair to ask for compensation due to the rising costs of medical treatments. Our experienced dog bite attorney can help you settle your legal claims and get the justice you deserve.

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