More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the United States, and according to the CDC, at least half of those bites happen to children. Approximately 800,000 of the people bitten by dogs receive medical attention for their injuries. While dogs usually bite as a reaction to something, some dog breeds are generally more aggressive or more prone to biting.
Please seek medical attention if you’ve been bitten by a dog, even if you don’t think it’s that serious. Dog’s mouths carry all kinds of bacteria that can cause infections in humans who are bitten, and a “small nip” can easily turn dangerous if left untreated. And, if you suffered from a dog attack due to the negligence of a dog owner, our team at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can help you pursue legal action.
How Do Dog Bites Happen?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not usually a specific breed but each individual dog that determines whether or not it will bite. Even the sweetest pet can bite if provoked enough, and sometimes, a meaner or more aggressive dog might not bite at all. Every situation and every dog is different. These are the main reasons a dog might bite:
- Reaction to something: Being surprised or startled, especially while eating, can cause a dog to react with a nip or bite. Also, stressful situations or being consistently bothered or provoked by people, especially children, cause reactive behaviors in a dog.
- They feel threatened: This could be when a dog is out at a dog park or if they think their owner may be in danger. If a stranger enters their home or their space, especially suddenly, they may feel like that person is a threat to either them or their owner/family.
- In defense: A dog might think you’re after their food, about to take their favorite toy or do something to their puppies, and might react with a bite to defend their things, even if there’s no real reason for them to do so.
- Feeling sick: Dogs get sick just like people do, and when they’re not feeling their best, they may act or react differently than their normal behavior. They might be sore, injured, or recovering from an illness and just don’t want people around them, which might make them bite.
- Too much excitement: We all love playing with our dogs, but sometimes, if you play too roughly or if your dog starts to get too excited during play, they might nip or bite. They don’t mean any harm, but this can still hurt the people they’re playing with.
Most recorded dog bites have been the dog’s reaction to something in its environment, but some are due to owner negligence or mistreatment. If a dog owner isn’t paying attention, or if they have their dog off of its leash, the dog has more opportunity to get itself into a situation where it can bite someone or another dog. Also, dogs that are mistreated or improperly trained are more likely to act aggressively or just not know how to interact with other people or animals and may bite out of fear, stress, or excitement.
Which Breeds Are More Likely To Bite?
While all dogs can bite, certain breeds are more likely to bite or, more accurately, have had more recorded instances of biting. Here are the top five breeds that are most likely to bite:
- Mixed breed
- German shepherd
The breeds of dog least likely to bite are:
- Great Dane
The World Animal Foundation (WAF) reports that the dogs that are most likely to bite and also cause the most damage are pit bulls and mixed breeds. These two breeds also have the highest percentage of reported fatal bites at 22.5% and 21.2% respectively. And, while a breed like the Great Dane may pose less risk of biting, its bites can cause a large amount of damage due both to the size of the dog itself and the size of its mouth and teeth.
Because any dog can bite for any reason at any time, it’s important for dog owners, everyone who interacts with dogs, and the dogs themselves to learn dog safety. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), understanding how to properly act and interact with and around dogs, especially for young children, can help prevent dog bites.
Life After a Dog Attack
Depending on the severity of injuries and damage from a dog attack, there can be a lengthy healing process. Not only might you need to have a course of antibiotics, but you may need surgery or have to stay at a hospital for some amount of time. Victims of dog bites can suffer from a variety of injuries, including but not limited to the following:
- Puncture wounds
- Infections or diseases
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Emotional trauma
- Serious bruises
Dog bites have a greater chance of becoming infected than most other puncture wounds because of the wide array of bacteria inside a dog’s mouth. Diseases such as rabies, MRSA, tetanus, and Pasteurella are very easy to contract from dog bites, which is why going to the doctor or hospital immediately after a dog attack is crucial for your health.
Pursuing Legal Action
If you or someone you know has been injured or affected by a dog attack or bite, please seek medical attention first and then contact our expert team of Charleston dog bite attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC. Dog attacks are scary and often life-altering, and the last thing you should worry about in the wake of an attack is how to get the compensation you deserve.
West Virginia holds to strict liability for dog bites, meaning that any dog owner can be held liable for damages their animal causes. Most people don’t know how to start the process of injury litigation, but we’re here to help you fight for your rights. Reach out to our office today for your free consultation.