Dogs are wonderful companions for adults and children alike. They offer unconditional love and are happy to see you when you come home. But what some people sometimes forget is that they are still animals and, as a result, they can be unpredictable. Two recent cases, one right here in Kentucky, illustrate this point.
On January 9, 2013, three children were playing at a home in Henderson, Kentucky. The kids were getting a little crazy, which riled up the dog living at the home, so the owner told the kids to calm down. The kids calmed down, and the dog appeared to calm down too. But when one of the children began staring at the dog, the dog attacked him, biting off his nose and swallowing it. After the dog was euthanized, the vet was able to retrieve the boy's nose and surgeons reattached it. The owner said he had owned the dog for a long time and he had never been aggressive before.
In the same week in New Athens, Illinois, a young girl was attacked by two dogs as she and her friend were walking. She suffered bites to multiple parts of her body. What is even more disturbing about this attack is that the dogs were owned by the town's former police chief, and one of the dogs was a trained police dog. That may leave some wondering how any dog can be trusted if even a trained police dog can attack without warning.
The fact of the matter is that you should never trust a dog 100%. Even the gentlest, calmest dog can have a bad moment that could end with someone being bitten. The American Kennel Club offers these tips to avoid dog bite injuries:
- Do not put your dog in a situation where it could be threatened or teased. You may want to confine your dog in these potential situations.
- Play non-aggressive games such as fetch. Games such as tug-of-war could encourage inappropriate behavior.
- Small children should never be left unsupervised with a pet.
- Children should be taught to always ask the owner for permission before they pet a dog.
- Respect a dog's space. Keep your hands away from a dog's fence. A dog considers its yard personal property and may growl or bite to protect it.
- "Let sleeping dogs lie" is a good rule to follow. That goes for a dog that is eating or drinking as well.
- Be cautious around a mother dog with her puppies. She will be naturally protective.
- Look for a certain type of body language to tell you to keep your distance. A threatening dog may have a wrinkled nose that draws back to reveal its teeth. The hair along the back of its neck may be raised, forming a long column along the spine. Its ears may lie back, and its body may appear tense and cocked. The dog may also growl or snarl. Always try to avoid any dog displaying any of these signs or acting in a threatening manner.
Not every dog bite can be avoided, and sometimes they do cause serious injury. A Kentucky personal injury attorney can help you determine if you should file an insurance claim or take legal action against the owner if you are bitten by a dog.
Tips to prevent dog bites; American Kennel Club
Former Police Chief's dogs attack young girl; 14 News; Dan Katz; January 11, 2013
Doctors reattach nose after Henderson pit bull attack; Evansville Courier and Press; January 11, 2013