As dog bite attorneys, we normally see people after they have already been bitten. The injuries we see range from lacerations that required a few stitches to those that are disfiguring in nature. In some instances, there was simply nothing our clients could have done to prevent the attack. In other cases, we hear of people that made a mistake simply because they didn’t know what to do.
Dog bites are, sadly, common. A dog may bite because it is fearful, in pain or aggressive by nature. That said, full blown dog attacks are rare. If you are confronted with a dog that appears to be in attack mode, there are things you can do to protect yourself. When you know how to respond, you are less likely to walk away from the incident with major injuries.
In the majority of circumstances, a dog will exhibit several behaviors before it attacks. While every dog is certainly unique, there are some signs of aggression that are typical. Growling and lunging are easy to recognize, but some subtle signs are often missed. A dog that freezes, called posturing, or tenses momentarily may be signaling that it is about to attack if it feels provoked. If you miss these signals, you could become a victim.
When you approach or are approached by a strange dog, look for the little signals. A dog with its ears bag, a stiff or slowly wagging tail, lips drawn back in a “grin,” or its head tucked low is telling you to back off. Unfortunately, even backing away may provoke a dog that is poised to attack.
While our pet dogs have learned that eye contact is not a sign of aggression or in any way threatening, the same is not true for dogs that we don’t know. If you come across a dog that you don’t know, avoid making eye contact.
Turn your body so that one of your shoulders is facing the dog. Move slowly as you do this. When you turn your body, you are protecting your trunk. You are also making yourself appear smaller to the dog.
After you turn your body, stand still. Keep an eye on the dog and when you notice that any signs of aggression are subsiding, move slowly away. Try to make it to a place where there is something between you and the animal. Do not run.
In some cases, you can do everything right and the dog will still decide to attack. If you find yourself in this situation, stay completely still. Use a normal tone of voice and ask someone nearby to help you. If there is no one nearby, don’t speak. If you are on the ground, curl into a ball, tuck your chin and put your hands behind your neck. Remember the position you got into during tornado drills at school? That works well for dog attacks.
Many people think that speaking to the dog in a calm, soothing voice will help calm the dog down. It won’t. Do not talk to the dog; the more you communicate, the better the chances are that an aggressive dog will attack.
Do not spray the dog in the face with pepper spray, water, soda or whatever else is within your reach. Throwing something in the dog’s face before it has lunged will likely aggravate it.
If you have done all of the above and the dog has attacked, look for something you can put between you and the animal. A stick, a purse or backpack, a bicycle, or anything else that you can use to block yourself will work.
If it safe to do so and you have any article of clothing you can remove, do it. Toss the clothing over the dog’s head. Momentarily blinding the dog could disorient it enough that you can run away. If there is nothing you can do to prevent the dog from attacking, get in that tornado drill position and stay quiet. It is easier said than done, of course, but the more you yell and scream, the more you will excite the already agitated dog.
Being attacked by a dog is an incredibly frightening experience. Humans, like dogs, have a fight or flight response. Unfortunately, in these situation, both can make matters worse.
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog in West Palm Beach, you have rights. Reach out to our team of dog bite attorneys for assistance in securing the compensation you may be due by law. We can help you secure damages for medical bills, lost wages and more. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation.