Although dogs are known as man’s best friend, in the event of an attack, it may seem like they are our worst enemy. When someone is attacked by an animal, one of the complicating factors is that it is impossible to hold the animal liable for the attack. However, if the dog’s owner negligently allows the animal to attack you, or behaves recklessly and incites the attack, the owner can be held liable for your dog bite injuries. Furthermore, even if the animal does not have an owner, if a property owner negligently harbors animals on the property which attack you, they may be liable as well.

If you are attacked by a dog or other animal, contact the Philadelphia dog bite lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys today and we can evaluate your case to determine who is liable for your injuries, and the extent of the financial damages you are owed.

Injuries Caused by Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

Dogs are not the only type of pet that can cause damage to an individual. Snakes, large birds, cats, and other reptiles are just some of the many pets that can cause serious injury. Dog bites and animal attacks can result in:

  • Loss of Motor Skills
  • Infection
  • Permanent Scarring
  • Deep Wounds
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Rabies
  • Death

When an animal attacks, it can be a terrifying, frightening experience. In addition to the pain and injuries suffered from the attack, there is the lingering question of who is responsible for the attack. Our Philadelphia lawyers have the experience necessary to make this determination and help you gain the compensation you deserve following a dog bite incident.

Avoiding Dog Bites

Obviously, it is best to avoid a dog bite if at all possible. Statistics show that children aged 5-9 are most likely to require medical attention due to dog bites. In addition, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog. More people are bitten by their own dogs than by dogs that are strangers to them. In fact, over one half of the people who are bitten by dogs are bitten by dogs they know. Given this, it is critical to train both your dogs and your children properly to avoid dog bites.

Training Your Dog Not to Bite

Dogs and owners should attend good citizenship classes together. If a dog is taught to freeze when it is around children, you don’t have to worry about it jumping up, knocking the child over or running up and biting him. Voice control over your dog is very important. While many people think it is a cute to have a puppy that mouths, failing to stop this behavior as a puppy can result in serious problems with an adult dog. Training the dog to keep its mouth off of human beings when it is young is absolutely critical. Adult dogs that nip or play bite must be stopped. Fortunately, you can teach an old dog new tricks, including how to keep its mouth off of you and other people. Dogs must be taught that resource aggression, i.e. growling or biting when any human takes a toy or food away, is unacceptable. Never allow this behavior between your dog and any human being. If your dog is aggressive as an adult, you may need to seek the help of a professional trainer to assist you in stopping bad behavior.

Proper Interaction with Dogs

It is critical that you understand how to deal with dogs and also to teach your children to properly interact with dogs; both your own and other people’s. While people assume certain breeds are more dangerous than others, the reality is that any dog can attack under the right circumstances.  The size of the dog is irrelevant, though, of course, a larger dog with a stronger jaw is likely to do more damage.

  • Introduce your children to gentle and well-behaved dogs so they are less likely to be afraid of them. If you don’t have a dog, ask your friends if their dogs are good with children and seek a proper introduction.
  • Supervise all behavior between your dog and your child, even if your dog is normally gentle. Young children should not be left alone with dogs.
  • Teach your children to keep their faces away from a dog’s. Any bite to the face can be devastating leaving scars or causing severe damage.
  • Children are most likely to be bitten if they startle or hurt a dog, even one they know. Dogs should not be expected to tolerate abusive behavior because it came from a child.
    • Stay away from sleeping dogs. If the dog is startled awake it could bite.
    • Watch toddlers who are unstable on their feet. They could fall on the dog or grab at it for balance.
    • Don’t pull at a dog’s tail, ears or fur. Never hit the dog.
    • Don’t hug or grab at a dog.
    • Don’t walk up behind a dog when it is not aware of your presence.
  • Teach your dog to allow humans to take food and toys away from it, but children should not try to remove such items from dogs. Especially strange dogs. It is easy for a dog to decide that a little human does not deserve as much respect as an adult.
  • Children also need to be taught that while their own dog may be safe, another person’s might not be. They should always ask the owner for permission to approach.
    • Some dogs have never been around children and do not know how to react to them.
    • Once a child has permission to approach a dog, she should introduce herself by letting the dog sniff her closed hand.
  • Even if your dog is fine with your own children, you should be cautious when introducing a new child to your dog. That child may not know how to behave around dogs or your dog could react badly. Also, if your dog is not used to small children, he may not know how to handle them.
  • If your child sees a loose dog, he should not approach that dog. Nor should he run and scream. This might cause the dog to chase him. He should calmly walk away and tell an adult.
    • If a strange dog approaches your child and your child cannot retreat, he should stand completely still.
    • Your child should not approach dogs behind a fence either. There might be a way through or around the fence and the dog, especially if teased, could become aggressive. Also, if the child gets too close, he could be bitten.
    • If your child is knocked down by an aggressive dog, he should curl up in a ball to protect himself. He should tuck his knees into his stomach with fingers locked behind his neck. While it is hard to be quiet while scared or in a dangerous situation, it is important that the child refrain from screaming which might cause the dog to be more aggressive.
  • If you are at a house with a dog that is unruly, bad with children or otherwise misbehaves in a dangerous fashion, ask the dog’s owner to put it in its crate or otherwise keep it away from your child. It is best to separate the animal from the child rather than risk injuries.
  • Don’t get in between two dogs that are fighting. This is an easy way to get bitten. Instead make loud noise or lift up the back legs of each of the dogs.
  • Keep children out of the way of dogs that are playing aggressively with each other. They could be accidentally bitten or knocked over.
  • Don’t look a dog in the eyes. This can be seen as a challenge and could cause an aggressive dog to attack.
  • Cornering a dog is dangerous. Dogs should always have a method of retreat. A cornered dog is more likely to bite.
  • Learn dog body language. Raised or curled lips, a stiff posture, trying to avoid eye contact, growling, bristling hair, efforts to retreat. There are many signs that may show that a dog is upset. Don’t assume that because a dog is wagging its tail that it is friendly.

There are many steps you can take to protect both yourself and your children from dogs. These suggestions are just a few. Train yourself and your children to be cautious around and respectful of dogs and the chances of a bite will be substantially reduced.

Contact a Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured due to an animal attack, contact the Philadelphia dog bite lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys today. If your injury is due to the negligence of a dog owner, we will fight to make sure that you are fully compensated for the injuries, including the pain and suffering that accompany a canine attack.

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