The Spring season is here, which means we can finally enjoy blossoming trees, budding flowers, and gorgeous weather. However, there are a few safety tips you need to review before scheduling a family picnic at the park. In the next few weeks, you’ll likely see countless people walking their dogs at shopping malls, beaches, dog parks, and even airports. While most dogs are friendly and perfectly happy to enjoy some one-on-one affection, you can still cross paths with an unpredictable and anxious animal that is fearful of strangers.
Not reaching out to pet a cute, prancing puppy is a struggle for adults and children alike. It’s hard to resist a fluffy face, especially when we’ve been raised in a culture that encourages the idea that “man’s best friend” is also “my best friend.” Even if an owner says it’s safe to pet their dog, you still need to be cautious. Any animal can bite in self-defense if it feels threatened or provoked. Unfortunately, pet owners aren’t always the best judges when it comes to predicting an animal’s behavior. Their dog might roll over for belly rubs at home, but the same can’t always be said when it comes to being touched by a stranger – especially when it’s a child.
Nearly 4.5 million Americans are injured in dog attacks each year, with children representing 50% of the casualties. In fairness, many of these incidents are due to human error. For instance, sometimes a child races up to a dog who reacts instinctively out of fear. In other situations, it’s the owner who is to blame. Many people are taking advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Air Carrier Access Act to treat normal pets and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) as service dogs. Owners are even purchasing service dog paraphernalia and ADA info cards off Amazon to take their untrained pets into stores, restaurants, and airports. The problem is that many of these stressed-out dogs are injuring passersby and damaging property.
With this information in mind, it’s important that you learn how to recognize aggressive dog behaviors before you find yourself or your child in a dangerous situation. The Southington dog bite attorneys at Sheffy, DeNigris, Grey & Bedard, LLP have compiled this summary of information to help you and your loved ones avoid an aggressive dog without incurring a bite.
Dogs of any breed are capable of acting aggressively under triggering circumstances. Before approaching a dog, look out for these aggressive attack behaviors:
- Still and rigid posture
- Bared teeth
- Growling or snarling
Don’t take any chances. If you aren’t certain about approaching an animal, even with its owner’s permission, keep your distance. There are many types of dog aggression, including territorial aggression, protective aggression, and defensive aggression. Not even an owner can read their dog’s mind, so it’s crucial that you avoid triggering the animal’s prey drive. This is also true if you encounter an off-leash dog (which is illegal outside of regulated areas like dog parks), or an animal tethered behind a fence or locked in a parked car.
If you encounter a stray or unleashed animal, it’s important to stay calm and push down your instinctive flight response – unless you have no other option. If you’re boring and unthreatening, the dog may lose interest and go away.
To avoid a dog bite, you need to retreat cautiously by following these steps:
- Avoid direct eye contact
- Do not, under any circumstances, run away from the animal
- Decrease your threat impact by crossing your arms and compartmentalizing yourself
- Slowly back and turn away, ignoring the dog entirely
- Try to find a nearby barrier that can protect you
- If possible, move to higher ground
If escape is impossible, you can still protect yourself by:
- Staying still
- Calmly calling for help
- Don’t scream, it will only antagonize the dog
- Create a barrier – purse, stick, trash can, etc.
- Don’t hit the animal, not even with your barrier item
- You may be able to escape if you can block the dog’s vision
- If the dog strikes, curl yourself into a ball while protecting your head and throat with your hands
Like many states, Connecticut has specific laws and regulations aimed at controlling dogs and checking their owners. Per Connecticut General Statutes section 22-357, a dog owner can be held liable for any injuries or property damage caused by their pet so long as the injured party wasn’t trespassing or provoking the animal. This strict liability law also applies if a dog pounces on a person and injures them.
Injured by a Dog? Discuss Your Case with a Qualified Legal Representative Today
A severe dog bite can cause permanent scarring, disfigurement, and even loss of life. If you’ve been injured by someone aggressive pet, contact the Southington dog bite lawyers at Sheffy, DeNigris, Grey & Bedard, LLP today. After investigating the incident and calculating your injury-related expenses, we can develop an effective litigation strategy that maximizes your claim and facilitates your overall recovery.