Published: 12:39, 26 January 2022
Ever wondered what to do if you ever get attacked by a dog? Or how to prevent your own from injuring someone?
Veterinarian Dr Heather Venkat, who works in companion animal medicine, has shared with The Compensation Experts some advice to help owners and those that fall victim to an attack.
What should I do if a dog attacks?
If you get attacked, Dr Venkat said that the first thing to do is to remain calm and seek medical attention as soon as possible to get your wounds checked.
If your own dog attacks someone, you should get your dog off that person and secure them as best as possible to avoid them getting loose again.
Owners should then make sure the person attacked is doing well. If they were bitten by your dog, you need to exchange contact information and contact the police or animal control to file a bite report.
Dr Venkat added: "You must follow all animal control rules to quarantine your dog for a period of time as well after it attacks someone."
Who do I need to report a dog attack to?
Victims of dog attacks should contact the police right away to make a statement.
To back up their case, people are advised to take pictures of the wound as soon as possible after the attack and save medical records and witness testimonies.
How do I know if my dog wants to harm someone?
Dr Venkat explained the warning signs owners should look out for if they worry their dog could attack someone.
She said: “Dogs can attack for a variety of reasons. If a dog is aggressive due to genetics or was trained to be aggressive, it may try to strike without warning.
"Sometimes you will notice a dog’s ears pinned back, lips curled back, pulling, and lunging on their lead while barking, or the hackles on their back raised that can indicate a dog is aroused and uncomfortable and might attack.
"Not every dog will growl before it attacks, but if your dog is growling it could be a sign that they are trying to warn a person or another dog off, and the next step will be to snap.
"If a dog has shown signs of aggression due to fear, you will notice them licking their lips, turning away, or trying to avoid a person or another dog, and you might see the white of their eyes more."
How can I prevent these incidents?
If you believe your dog could harm someone, it is advised to avoid taking them out when you know other people will be around.
An alternative is putting a basket muzzle on your dog, which allows them to open their mouth to drink and pant, but would block them from biting someone.
Dr Venkat added: "Make sure that you know you can have control of your dog when you take them outside, especially if you have a big, strong dog. Try to recognise if your dog has specific triggers, such as other dogs, cats, bikes, or cars, that could set them off and cause them to attack.
"If you are on a walk in the moment, quickly move in the opposite direction from the other person. Ensure the fence of your garden is tall enough to prevent your dog from jumping over and attacking someone.
Other options include working with a professional dog trainer or contacting your vet for medications for fear-aggressive dogs. These can help reduce your pet's anxiety and potentially preventing them from attacking someone.
How to claim for a dog attack?
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, every dog owner or carer has a legal duty to ensure the people around it are safe from attack, whether actual or threatened, in public and private areas.
Therefore if you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, you should speak to your insurance provider.
The Compensation Experts said, though, that despite being able to do a claim, it is a "very difficult process and you might not always get compensation, as most people are not insured for this, so it’s worth double-checking your policy."
For more information on claiming for dog attacks, you can visit The Compensation Experts website.