Articles Posted in Dog Bites

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There is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bite someone. But you can significantly reduce the risk, here’s how:

Spay or neuter your dog. This important and routine procedure will reduce your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs, making safe confinement an easier task. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.

Socialize your dog.
Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.

Train your dog.
Accompanying your dog to a training class is an excellent way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Training your dog is a family matter. Every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog’s education. Never send your dog away to be trained. Only you can teach your dog how to behave in your home.
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Dog attacks can be frightening experiences with consequences that can last a lifetime. After the dog bite, medical treatment and surgery are often necessary, and a relatively new law in Missouri helps people injured in dog attacks get the compensation they need to pay for medical bills and other expenses resulting from the dog bite.

Previously, in addition to working on their medical recovery, dog-bite victims had to prove the dog had a vicious propensity before they could recover any money from the dog’s owner. Under the new Missouri dog-bite law, however, dog-attack victims will not have as much to prove before they can get the compensation they deserve.

Dog Bite Statistics

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of these people, 800,000 seek medical attention, and about half are children. More than a third of the injuries caused by dog attacks require emergency department care.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also states that children ages 5 to 9 are the group most often bitten by dogs. In addition, when children 4-years-old or less are attacked by dogs, most of the injuries are to their heads and necks. Boys are more often injured by dog bites than girls.

Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks can cause serious injuries, especially to younger children who may not know how or be able to protect themselves. Some common dog bite injuries include:

-Cuts and scrapes -Puncture wounds -Tissue loss -Muscle loss -Nerve damage -Fractures and broken bones -Hair loss -Disfiguration -Infection
The dog attack and these injuries can also lead to mental-health concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, fear, depression, and embarrassment. Following serious dog attacks, victims may need emergency medical treatment, surgery, rehabilitation and therapy.

Old Missouri Dog-Bite Law

The previous dog-bite law in Missouri was the “one bite rule,” which is sometimes known as the free bite rule. Under the old Missouri dog-bite law, dog-attack victims had to prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known the dog was potentially dangerous based on its past behavior in order to hold the dog owner responsible for the attack.

Essentially, under the one bite rule, dog owners generally could not be held liable for a dog’s first bite. Instead, that first “free bite” was the behavior that gave the owner notice that the dog had a propensity for violence, and the owner could be held liable only for subsequent dog attacks. This old rule used a negligence standard that judged the legal liability of a dog owner by determining whether his or her action was what a reasonable person would have done considering the circumstances.

New Missouri Dog-Bite Law

The new Missouri dog-bite law eliminated the negligence standard and the one bite rule. In 2009, the Missouri legislature enacted a new law that established a strict-liability standard for dog-bites, making it easier for dog-attack victims to hold the dog owner responsible.

The new law states that the owner or possessor of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while that person is on public property or has been invited onto private property is strictly liable for damages suffered by the victim, “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s or possessor’s knowledge of such violence.” Further, a dog owner or possessor held liable under the law also will be fined up to $1,000.

Accordingly, dog-bite victims do not need to prove that the dog’s owner knew or should have known the dog was potentially dangerous before the victim may hold the owner responsible for the attack. Instead, victims only need to prove two things, one, they were on public property or lawfully on private property when the attack occurred and two, they did not provoke the dog before it bit.

If these two requirements are met, the dog owner will be held strictly liable for the attack and the victim may be awarded monetary compensation, called damages, for his or her injuries and related expenses. However, if a judge or jury determines that the victim was partly at fault for the attack, the damages recovered by the victim will be reduced by victim’s percentage of fault.
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To help prevent adults and children from being bitten by dogs, teach the following basic safety tips and review them regularly:

· Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
· Do not run from a dog or scream.
· Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
· If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log.”).
· Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
· Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
· Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
· Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
· Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
· If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

*Pictures used in blogs on this website are not the actual photos from the crash or incident described in the content of the blog.

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Are dog bites a serious problem?

4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention, meaning that almost one in five of those who are bitten, a total of 885,000 require medical treatment.

Who is most at risk?

Among children, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages of 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites than adults. Also, among children and adults, having a dog in the household is associated with a higher incidence of dog bites. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

How can dog bites be prevented?

Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, and adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten.

Before you bring a dog into your household:
Consult with a professional to learn what breeds of dogs is the best fit for your household (Avoid dogs with histories of aggression, they are not suitable for households with children). Also cue into your children’s responses of a certain dog, are the apprehensive or fearful? And finally, spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.
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Although most dogs don’t bite, and most dog bites are not serious, according to recent federal government data, hospitalizations for dog bites have nearly doubled in the past 15 years. Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, causing 316,200 trips to the emergency room and 9,500 hospitalizations in 2008.

The cost of treating the injuries from these dog bite incidents is $54 million per year, or $18,200 per hospital stay.

Dog bites are most common in the Midwest. More than 30 children are admitted to local hospitals each year for dog bite treatment, which usually involves surgery.

Toddler Avery Imhof is a perfect example of how things can go wrong involving small children and dogs. The toddler leaned down to kiss her grandparents’ dog that was sleeping on the floor. The dog spooked and snapped at Avery. Part of Avery’s cheek was gone and she was airlifted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Plastic surgeons had to graft skin from the toddler’s abdomen onto her cheek. Avery has undergone four reconstructive surgeries for the dog bite injuries. The dog had not been aggressive before this attack.

According to Dr. John Peter, emergency department director at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, “children need to be told not to fear the dog but to respect the dog. Children aren’t born with the knowledge of how to behave around dogs and traffic and guns.”

Serious dog bites are most common among children and older adults. “Little kids tend to be down in the face of the dog,” said Peter. More commonly children are bitten by dogs belonging to family members, friends or neighbors, “not some stray dog that’s just attacking people”.

Dogs are not inherently violent killers; however it is important to be educated and informed on how to interact with them. Parents need to work with their children so that they know what appropriate behavior around animals is, even if they are familiar with the animal.

*Pictures used in blogs on this website are not the actual photos from the crash or incident described in the content of the blog.

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