Even if your dog is friendly and has never shown signs of aggression before, there is always the potential that something can trigger your dog to react by biting. If your dog does bite someone, you will likely be worried, upset, and maybe even shocked. You might be thinking, what could this mean for your dog? Could they be taken away from you or euthanized?
It is extremely important to react quickly after the bite and take action. Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care is here to help you learn what happens when your dog bites someone, and what steps to take next.
My Dog Bit Someone. Now What?
Here are the steps to take immediately after your dog bites someone:
Remove your dog from the area: The first thing to do immediately after your dog bites someone is to remember to remain calm. Remove your dog from the situation by putting them in a crate or another room.
Attend to the bite victim: Help them wash the wound with warm soap and water thoroughly. Contact medical professionals on their behalf, and call an ambulance if needed. Even if the bite does not look very bad, they should still be seen by a medical professional because bites can turn serious quickly. Offer to contact the victim’s family or friend.
Exchange contact info with the victim and witnesses: Provide your insurance information if necessary, and also get the contact info of any witnesses present.
Inform authorities and your veterinarian: Inform local authorities of the situation, and contact your veterinarian for any necessary medical records.
Dog Bites and the Law: What Does It Mean for Your Pet?
Dog bite laws can vary greatly depending on the location the bite occurs in, and could differ not only from state-to-state, but also between counties and cities. It’s important to research the laws in your area so you can know what to expect in case a dog bite occurs.
Typically, the following will apply:
- You will need to show proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination.
- Your dog may be required to go into quarantine. Quarantine may be prolonged if their rabies vaccination is not up to date.
- Your dog may be designated a “dangerous dog,” depending on severity of the bite, and your dog’s history.
- Your dog may be required by law to be euthanized if your dog is considered dangerous, or if the injury was very serious or a death occured.
- You could be held legally responsible, or face fines or charges.
The dog bite victim may decide to file a civil suit against you or press charges, and you may be legally required to cover their medical expenses. In the situation that you get to keep your dog, you will be held responsible to ensure that a bite or attack does not happen again.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
In most cases, dogs may bite someone because they feel threatened. They may bite to protect their pack, territory, or to defend themselves. Biting is a part of their natural instincts that is still present in domesticated dogs today.
Here are some things that may provoke dogs to bite:
- Startling a dog, waking one up suddenly, or sneaking up from behind (such as small children tend to do)
- Hurting a dog, even by accident
- Running away from a dog quickly (even in play, this could provoke a dog and turn play into aggression)
- Fearful dogs may attempt to bite anyone who approaches (this is commonly seen in abused or abandoned dogs)
- Injury, illness, or not feeling well. If a dog is feeling pain, they may not want to be approached
The good news is, dog bites can be prevented, especially if you know your dog is prone to biting or if you know what is triggering them. It’s important to make a plan with your veterinarian to learn your dog’s behaviors and assess if they need socialization classes or professional training. It’s also important to encourage good behavior in your dog.
The team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care is here for you and your dog! We can help with any questions regarding local dog bite laws, dog behavior assessments, training, and overall care. Call us at (704) 334-4684 with any concerns you may have about your dog’s temperament or behavior, or to schedule an appointment with our caring team.