It is not uncommon to hear news reports in Jacksonville about a dog bite or dog attack. Often, the victims are children who have wandered off into yards where dogs are not fenced or restrained. Unfortunately, some dogs go into “protect mode” and inflict wounds that can be very serious and sometimes fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control reports 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year. One in five of those victims – about 885,000 people – require medical care and approximately 31,000 require reconstructive surgery as a result.
In Florida, more than 500 residents on average per year require hospitalization for dog bite injuries. On average, two Floridians die annually as a result of injuries sustained by dog bites. Unfortunately, Florida’s dog bite injuries are highest among children between the ages of one and nine. Boys are more often the victims of dog bites or attacks than girls.
In addition to suffering the physical injuries and mental effects of a dog bite, victims also need to consider the possibility of infection. The rabies virus is transmitted primarily through animal bites and is more common in Florida than most other states. Bacterial infections are another potential complication from dog bite injuries. Be sure to seek medical attention to determine if additional cleansing or suturing is required. In addition, many people are not aware that dog bites can cause tetanus, so ask your medical provider if you require a tetanus shot.
Many dog attacks can be prevented by following some common sense guidelines. The following tips from the City of Jacksonville may help prevent your child from becoming a dog bite victim:
– Do not approach a stray or unfamiliar dog – Teach kids to ask the owner’s permission before approaching or petting an unknown dog. Tell kids not to hug or kiss the dog, as face-to-face contact is a common cause of dog bites. Instead, if the owner says it is okay, tell kids to approach a dog by petting their backs or sides first rather than placing their face directly in the dog’s face.
– “Freeze” if a strange dog approaches – Teach children to stand still, like a tree. Eventually, the dog will lose interest and go away. This works for strange dogs as well as the family dog if he or she gets a little aggressive. If your child gets knocked down, teach him or her to roll up on the ground and remain still.
– Do not tease a dog – Do not ever disturb a dog when it is sleeping, eating or protecting something. Their predatory instincts will prevail.
– Avoid Direct Eye Contact – Many animals, including dogs, may react to eye contact as a threat. It is not unusual for them to attack in this situation if they feel threatened.
Written by Elizabeth Allen
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dog bite or attack, contact our Jacksonville attorneys for a free no-obligation consultation. We can help you determine if your case has merit and if so, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.