Dog Bites: Injuries and Prevention
South Carolinians love dogs. They offer companionship, inspire us with their loyalty and bravery, and provide a sense of security against potential trespassers and intruders. In Charleston and other places throughout South Carolina, you see dogs being walked by their owners on virtually every street and in every park you go to, and many canine companions are welcome to accompany their owners in various stores and restaurants. While dogs are lovable, often amusing us with their various antics, there are limits to a dog’s patience and good nature. Dog bites are a common form of injury in the United States, and injuries due to dog bites can be serious and permanent.
Injuries Due to Dog Bites
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a staggering 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year in the United States. Children are most likely at risk for being bitten by a dog, and their injuries are often more severe. Roughly 1 in 5 dog bites will become infected; contrary to folklore regarding the cleanliness of a dog’s mouth, the fact is over 60 different kinds of bacteria are present in a dog’s saliva. Diseases caused by dog bites include:
- Rabies, which is a virus that affects the brain and is often fatal. If you’ve been exposed to a dog or any animal that you suspect has rabies, seek treatment right away
- Pasteurella, a type of bacteria present in over 50% of dog bite wounds, which causes a painful red infection at the bite site, and may lead to swelling in the joints and glands and difficulty moving
- MRSA, which is a type of dangerous staph infection, resistant to certain antibiotics, that can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections
- Tetanus, which produces paralysis, and can be a problem in deep bite wounds. If a dog has bitten you, make sure you’ve had a recent tetanus shot; if not, have your doctor give you a tetanus shot right away
In addition to diseases, dog bites can cause deep wounds, resulting in muscle or nerve damage, and often leaving permanent scarring.
Spotting Aggressive Behavior in Dogs
To prevent dog bites, learn to spot aggressive behavior in dogs. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), signs that a dog may be about to bite include:
- The dog’s ears, tail, or the hair on its back may be standing straight up
- A dog may stare unflinchingly while walking stiffly towards you
- Often, a dog will growl and show its teeth
- The dog may crouch down on its front paws, preparing to lunge
These signs of aggression can indicate a dog is about to bite, but a fearful or anxious dog is more likely to bite also. Never approach a dog from behind; go slow, allow it time to see you and get comfortable before trying to pet it. Always ask the owner’s permission. Never take for granted that just because a dog looks cute and cuddly that it is ok to pet it; even little dogs have serious bites. Also, don’t assume that simply because you know the dog it won’t bite you; the majority of dog bites are from animals owned by family, friends, and neighbors.
Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys
If a dog has bitten you or someone you know, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm. Dog owners are liable for the injuries and damages caused by their dog. Our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys will fight to hold owners accountable for the serious injuries that can result from dog bites, and help you get the compensation you deserve. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, call us today for a free review of your case.