Now that the weather is stabilizing and warming up, people are going to be out walking and biking more than ever. As people are getting out and about, they may encounter a stray dog or even a pack. If this happens to you, the way you react and behave can mean the difference between being bitten or walking away.
If you see a stray dog, your first move should be to put as much distance between you and the animal as possible. If you are unable to get away, take the following steps.
If a dog is approaching you, try to remain calm and gauge the dog’s demeanor. Does it seem aggressive or afraid? If the dog is frightened, you will notice ears that are laid back and a tucked tail. If the dog is feeling aggressive, it will display its feelings by raising its hackles, lifting its tail and pricking its ears. The dog may also draw its lips back from its teeth. Of course, each dog will behave in a different way and not all have read the rule book. Trust your gut.
There are certain breeds that make the news most often, but it doesn’t mean that they are more apt to attack you than any other stray dog. You are far better taking the time to look at body language than assuming you are either in danger or safe because the dog is a certain type.
Most stray dogs are lost, few are feral. A lost dog is frightened and its first instinct will be to run away. If a stray dog has run away from you, don’t chase it. You may want to save it, but you are likely to get bit if you corner it and reach out to catch it. Instead, call the authorities and report the location of the dog.
If you have determined that the stray dog is frightened, do not speak to it and do not make eye contact. Instead, keep your eye on the dog without looking directly into its face and slowly back away. Whatever you do, don’t turn and run. This may make the dog’s chase instinct kick in.
If you believe the dog is aggressive rather than frightened, you should look for something you can protect yourself with. Look for something you can climb on top of or something that you can defend yourself with. If you are unable to protect yourself, the only thing you can do if the dog attacks is try to deflect it with your arms. You may sustain some bites, but better to your arms than to your face, neck or trunk.
Few dogs will attack a person who isn’t running. Try to remain as calm as you can, stand tall and erect and clasp your hands to avoid waving them without thinking about it. Slowly grab your phone and call animal control, keeping your voice low and steady. If you aren’t sure of the number, you can call your local police department for help.
If you are bitten by a stray dog and are able to escape further attack, you will want to get medical attention. A dog bite can become infected rather quickly, especially one that has hit a bone or joint. Deep punctures will need to be cleaned out well and perhaps even stitched.
Get evaluated by a medical professional. If the wound is superficial and you believe you can take care of it yourself, make sure to run it under clean water for several minutes. Wash it with soap and water and then leave it alone. You don’t want to put liquid bandage over the cut because you risk trapping any bacteria left behind.
When you are bitten by a dog, even if its a stray, you have legal rights. Granted, it can be more difficult to retrieve compensation from the owner of a stray simply because you may not know who owns the dog, but you do have options. If you can determine who the owner of the dog is, do so. If you are bitten, report the bite to the police and describe the animal if it has left the area. The police may be able to find it and determine its owners.
If you have been bitten by a dog in Fort Lauderdale, and that dog has an owner, reach out to our office. We will help you schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discuss the details of your injury. We will help you determine the next steps in order to protect your legal rights. Call our office today to schedule your consultation and learn how we can assist you.