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What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

By Teri Dormer

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Owning a pet is often a great life-altering experience. Ask anyone who’s ever owned a dog or a cat they couldn’t help but show off pictures of and you’ll likely discover most pet owners see their animals as a part of their family. 

While your furry canine companion may have a permanent place on your family holiday card, it’s important to recognize that dog bites can happen when you least expect it.

Knowing what to do in the moment of an attack (including a minor dog bite) can be the most important thing you do for the person who’s been bit and your pet. 

If you’ve never thought about what you would do in the event of a dog bite – or if you’re curious how dog bite insurance works – let’s take a closer look at what to do at the scene of the bite and as the dust starts to settle. 

Immediately After a Dog Bite 

The most important thing to recognize about a dog bite is that it can happen almost anywhere at any time. As much as we love our pets or can’t imagine a world where they might hurt us or someone else, dog bites are impossible to predict.

Without being able to communicate with our pets, it’s difficult to understand what they might perceive as threatening or harmful. 

In the unlikely event that your dog is responsible for biting someone, or you’re bitten by someone else’s dog, it’s important to keep these steps in mind:  

1. Stay Calm

One of the most dangerous mistakes you can make is to incite panic after a dog has bitten someone. In certain scenarios (even a minor dog bite), too much energy or hostility in the room can trigger the pet to attack again.

2. Determine If Medical Assistance Is Necessary

If a dog bite or attack has resulted in blood loss or broken skin, you should seek immediate medical attention. 

3. Share Contact Information With the Victim or Pet Owner

It’s wise to treat a dog attack like a car accident. If your dog is responsible for biting someone else, you’ll want to make sure that person has your contact information before leaving the premises. The same is true if you’re bitten by someone else’s dog. 

4. Identify Your Pet’s Medical Records

If your pet is responsible for the dog bite, you’ll want to put together all of their medical records (including vet visits and vaccinations) as quickly as possible. This information can be vital in helping to determine how much medical care the victim requires. 

Do I Need Dog Bite Insurance? 

From a legal and liable perspective, it’s important to remember that there is no specific “dog bite insurance.”

If your pet is responsible for an attack or bite of another person, you may need to file a claim with your home insurance. A typical home insurance policy covers the cost of your legal expenses as a result of a dog bite up to your liability limits.

If the cost of those expenses exceeds your policy limits, you may find you owe out-of-pocket payments to cover the remaining damages. 

You may also find that your home insurance policy excludes coverage for certain breeds of dogs (including pit bulls or Rottweilers), or includes waivers for dog bites altogether.

These exclusions dramatically alter the amount of money you may be required to pay yourself if your pet is ever responsible for biting and injuring another person.  
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Avoid Becoming a Dog Bite Statistic

Dog bite statistics say more than 4 million people are bitten by dogs every year, many of them young children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. 

You may not be able to predict when a dog bite is going to happen, but as a pet owner, you should always be prepared for the possibility.

No matter how much time and effort you put into training your pets to be on their best behavior, knowing how to react after a dog bite can help a bad situation from getting even worse. 

Depending on the severity of the attack (and the level of insurance coverage you have to cover the damages), you may also want to consider hiring your own legal counsel to navigate the aftermath of a dog bite