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How to know when a dog might attack, and what to do after

Dog attacks are all too common in California, especially involving young children. The physical and psychological damage caused by dog bites and attacks can be very serious.

In fact, roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and about 20 percent of these attacks require medical treatment.

In order to help prevent you or a loved one from being attacked or bitten, it’s important to know the body language and signs dogs typically display before lunging at a person out of fear or aggression. 

It’s best to use caution when around an unfamiliar dog that is demonstrating the following body language: cowering, licking lips, panting, yawning, hypervigilence and furrowed brow. These signs could indicate that the dog feels fearful or threatened.

Body language including moving away, stiffening of the body, hair standing up, growling or staring are all more serious indications that a dog may pose a danger. In this situation, it’s best to use extreme caution and slowly move away from the dog.

Unfortunately, some dog attacks happen instantaneously and seemingly out of nowhere. The first thing to do after a bite or attack is to get the name and address of the dog owner; then get medical attention right away.

Under California law, the owner of a dog can be held responsible for an attack, whether the owner knew the dog was dangerous or not.  Typically, the dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy provides compensation for dog attacks, but oftentimes the insurance coverage is inadequate.

That’s when it’s necessary to involve an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer who can stand up for the dog attack victim’s rights under the California Dog Bite Law

Source: WZZM 13, “Kids & Pets: Staying Safe Around Dogs,” Denise Pritchard, June 12, 2014

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