Dog bites are a serious issue in California. In fact, out of all 50 states, California has seen the most deaths in recent years. Many of these attacks occurred in Southern California, specifically in San Diego. The San Diego County Department of Animal Services investigates at least 2,500 dog bite cases each year.
If you live in California and own a dog or if you have been injured by one, understanding the laws on owners’ civil and criminal liability as it relates to what happens after a dog bite is reported is good practice.
Each year, over 4.5 million people across the U.S. are bitten by dogs, and of the approximate 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites, at least half are children. Children are the most common victims of dog or animal bites and are far more likely to be injured severely, particularly in the head or neck areas.
Most dog bites affecting younger children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs, like the family dog or a dog well-known to the family. Remember, as most dog bites involve familiar animals, prevention starts in your home.
Dog bites are preventable, yet these injuries have been on the rise.
Dog bites are a significant public health concern and may account for 40% of all pediatric traumas. According to a study by the NCBI, it was found that dog bites of the head and neck disproportionately affected pediatric patients. Among the dog breeds responsible for these head and neck injuries, one-third involved pit bull terriers, whose resulting injuries were more severe, had nearly twice the requirement for specialty consultation and had a higher rate of surgical exploration and repair. Ultimately, their study aims to improve standardized early treatment and develop preventive measures for these resource-intense injuries.
How to Prevent Dog Bites Involving Children
- Almost one in every five people bitten by a dog requires medical attention. Children are more likely to suffer serious injuries because the majority of injuries occur in the head, face, or neck. Parents should be aware of some simple preventative measures for dog bites.
- Never leave a small child alone with a dog, regardless of whether it is the family dog, a dog you know, or a dog you have been assured is well behaved. Any dog has the potential to bite.
- Allowing your child to play aggressive games with a dog, such as tug of war or wrestling, can result in bites.
- Teach your child to always ask a dog owner for permission before petting a dog.
- Allow a dog to sniff you or your child before petting, and avoid touching the dog’s face or tail. Pet the dog gently and always try to avoid eye contact, especially at first.
- Never bother a dog that is asleep, eating, or caring for her puppies. Even if the person is familiar, dogs are more likely to react aggressively in these situations.
- Teach your child to move slowly and calmly around dogs.
- Teach your children that if a dog is behaving aggressively, such as growling and barking, they should remain calm. They should avoid eye contact with the dog and back away slowly until the dog loses interest and leaves.
- If a dog knocks you or your child over, curl up in a ball, then shield your eyes and face with your arms & palms.
- Never run from a dog and scream.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
How to Treat Dog Bites
Here is what you need to do if a dog bites your child:
- Request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog’s owner and the owner’s name and contact information. Also, request the name and phone number of a veterinarian familiar with the dog’s vaccination records and history.
- Wash the wound with soap and water right away.
- Call your pediatrician right away because the bite may necessitate antibiotics, tetanus, and rabies shots. The doctor can also assist you in reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities.
- If your child has been severely bitten, dial 9-1-1 or take them to an emergency room for treatment.
- Prepare to tell the emergency department doctor about your child’s tetanus vaccination status, the dog’s vaccination status (or provide contact information for the dog’s veterinarian), the dog’s owner, and whether or not the dog has previously bitten.
- To ensure proper healing, follow your pediatrician’s instructions.
Recommendations for Dog Owners
- Spay or neuter your dog to reduce aggression.
- Properly socialize and train any dog entering the home.
- Immediately seek professional advice (e.g. veterinarian, animal behaviorist, animal trainer) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
- Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g. wrestling, tug-of-war).
- Keep your dog on a leash when it is off your property.
REPORTING A DOG BITE IN CALIFORNIA
Many dog bites in California go unreported each year out of loyalty to a friend, family member, or neighbor who owns the animal. Although seemingly disloyal, reporting a dog bite to the proper agency helps the victim and helps society as well. If a dog in California has bitten you, you should immediately receive medical care, then make it a priority to report the bite to the appropriate agency.
Check with the Animal Control agency in your area to get instructions on how to submit a report. In addition, you may be told to report the dog bite to the local health department and local police department. If the dog can be identified, then vet records will reflect if the dog is current on its rabies shots. If it’s not current, or if the dog is a stray, then you may need to endure having rabies shots yourself.
REPORT THE DOG BITE – TO YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL CONTROL, THEN A DOG BITE LAWYER
You should speak to a personal injury attorney to get more details about proving your case and about evaluating any settlement offer from a dog owner or insurance company. A skilled California dog bite lawyer can ensure you get the full amount of damages you are entitled to under the law. Because anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies, consider contacting your local animal control agency or police department to report the incident, especially:
- If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
- If the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.
Reporting the dog bite is a key factor in helping you recover compensation for your injuries in a civil court action. Relatively minor dog bites and scratches can cause chronic pain and cost several thousand dollars to treat. Dog bite victims can also get compensation for emotional damages such as stress and a sudden fear of dogs. If possible, contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination.
You will need the rabies vaccine license number, the name of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine, and the owner’s name, address, and phone number. If a dog in California has bitten you or a loved one, then you should call Arash Khorsandi and his team of dog bite injury experts at Arash law for a FREE consultation at (888) 488-1391.