When You or your Dog is Bitten
Stay calm and get control
Keep all involved dogs secured by leashes at a distance and stay calm. The dogs are already beyond their threshold and need not to be punished or further stressed. Take a few deep breaths calm yourself before you take any action. If your dog was the victim, you can comfort him/her by gently petting or soothing them with a calm, quiet voice, but wait until they have self-soothed a bit – you do not want to be the next victim – that of a redirected bite (dog bites whatever is closest, due to pain or fear, without intent to harm). While your temper may be flaring and your emotions are running high, try to get ahold of yourself first and foremost.
Assess the Damage
Is there a puncture or broken skin? If it is life-threatening, call 9-1-1 immediately; if it is not, be sure to administer first aid and seek medical attention right away. If your skin is broken at all, you will need to be seen by a doctor in order to have the wound flushed and checked. “Dogs mouths are the cleanest” is a myth. Dogs have enzymes to break down the different things they pick up, but they certainly have plenty to bacteria to share. You will also need a tetanus shot if you are not up to date, and (potentially) antibiotics to fend off infection. If your dog has a puncture, he/she will need to see a veterinarian immediately for the same reasons. Remember that dogs will rarely show that they are in pain, so don’t assume that since they are quiet or seem unaffected that they are not hurting. A trip to the vet is the safest bet.
Speak to the dog’s owner and get their name and contact information – you will need them to give you proof that their dog is up to date on vaccinations. Ideally they will show you a piece of I.D. that proves they are who they say they are and you can follow up for proof of good health and vaccinations. You may come across someone who is afraid or irresponsible; if they refuse to give you information, call the police immediately and let them deal with the situation. (Remember – if they drove to the park, you can take down their license plate and they can be traced that way too.)
Talk to witnesses
This is very important. Speak with anyone who witnessed the incident and ask for their contact information in case you need to call on them down the road. Do not try to convince them of what happened, one way or another; they will have seen whatever they saw and you need to make this short and sweet. Keep in mind that some people may not want to get involved, and they may not want to give out their contact information. Do not pressure them – it is not their responsibility.
Contact Animal Control
This part is very important, despite what normally happens in these situations. When we contact Animal Control, we are simply notifying them of an incident. It does not mean that the dog will be euthanized or that there will be a dramatic scene. They collect the information and investigate. They will speak with the dog’s owner and depending on the severity, they may give a warning and some restrictions (no off-leash parks, must be muzzled in public, etc…) or they may ask that the dog is quarantined or surrendered (this is extremely rare). If you were the victim, you may also be required to speak with Public Health as your doctor will likely tell you.
If the dog’s owner does not co-operate and cover the veterinary fees or medical bills for the bite, you have a right to take them to small claims court in order to settle for the associated fees. If you are interested in opening a claim, read about the process online and contact your lawyer for assistance.
Contact your Trainer
This is a good time to contact your Trainer and inform them as well. You may want to set up a session to discuss the next steps to ensure your dog is not traumatized by this incident. Make sure that you “get back on the horse” so to speak; do not avoid other dogs out of fear – continue your normal, everyday routine and continue socializing your dog in safe places with friendly people and dogs.
Remember to try to stay calm and think positive. Be proactive and educate yourself through the experts around you. Everyone will have an opinion but stick with the true experts – your vet, trainer and lawyer. Keep a cool head and follow the protocol; it’s in place for a reason.
You may be hesitant to contact the authorities, but as a dog owner, you bear a responsibility to help ensure the safety of other people and pets in public places. Failing to report a bite incident shows irresponsibility as a fellow dog-owner. You can’t change the past but you can certainly help to ensure no other person or pet has to be a victim. It also ensures that people are responsible for their pets and it may prompt them to seek behaviour modification for their dog to prevent it from happening again. Just think; next time it could be a child. Do the right thing.
Animal Control please call OSPCA 1-888-668-7722
York Regional Police 24/7: 9-1-1 / 1-866-876-5423
Date: April 5th, 2011
Author: Caryn Charlie Liles
Re-posted with permission ; Copyright, Whatta Pup!
This article is the author’s opinion and re-published by the Richmond Hill K9 Klub for information purposes only. This information should not be taken as legal advice or relied upon in any way. Consult with a lawyer prior to taking any action.