Dealing with Dog Bite Drama

Dogs are a part of many people’s families, and they interact with many different individuals on a daily basis. We domesticated dogs centuries ago, however that doesn’t mean that accidents and incidents don’t happen. Here’s how to handle them whether you’re the owner of a dog or the victim of a dog bite.


If You’ve Been Bitten By a Dog

A dog bite can barely break the skin or cause severe trauma. Here are the steps that you need to take anytime a dog bite occurs.

1.     Clean the wound immediately. This is important at minimizing the chances of infection and will help you assess how bad the bite really is. You’ll also want to take photographs of the wound for your records.

2.     Get medical attention. Even if it is a superficial wound if it breaks the skin you need to get a tetanus shot if you haven’t recently had one and possibly a series of rabies shots. You have a window of 72 hours but the sooner you can schedule to have these done the better.

3.     Contact the dog owner. Unless the owner is there when the bite occurs you’ll need to contact them and let them know what happened. They or their insurance company will be liable for any medical costs.

4.     Gather contact information for anyone who witnessed the attack.

5.     Get evidence of the dog’s vaccinations. Request documentation of when the dog was last vaccinated for rabies. If they aren’t current on their shots you need to start the series of rabies vaccinations immediately.

6.     Report the incident. If the bite wasn’t accidental it needs to be reported to the proper authorities so they can assess whether the dog is dangerous.

7.     Contact your health insurance company and let them know what has occurred.

Being bitten by a dog can be a frightening experience. It’s important to focus on your health first, then the monetary issues later.

If You’re the Owner of a Dog That Bit Someone

Every dog owner understands there is some liability involved with owning one of these animals no matter what their breed. Sometimes accidents happen, and dogs can get protective or upset just like people. If your dog has bitten someone you need to take action immediately.

1.     Get the dog contained and under control. Stay calm and don’t engage the victim in any arguments.

2.     Make sure the person who was bitten gets proper medical attention.

3.     Get the information of any witnesses.

4.     Make copies of your dog’s medical records for the person that was bitten.

5.     Provide the other party with the appropriate insurance information. It is likely that there will need to be medical treatment that you or your insurance company will be responsible for. There are a number of insurance policies that cover these types of incidents including your Austin renters insurance, homeowners insurance, pet insurance and liability insurance.

6.     Contact your insurance agent(s) to inform them of what happened and ask what coverage is available to you.

7.     Keep in touch with the victim. Make sure that they are okay and coordinate with them on next steps to get medical bills, etc. handled.

8.     Brace yourself for court and insurance claims. You may have to go to civil court, criminal court or answer to the local animal control authorities.

This can be a very emotional ordeal that takes months to put behind you. The most important to make sure of is that the victim is alright and your dog is safe in the future around people.

SPECIAL NOTE: Some cities, like Austin, require that owners of “dangerous dogs” get additional liability insurance to cover these kinds of events. “Dangerous dogs” are those that have already bitten someone before – not simply certain breeds of dogs. Even if your dog hasn’t bitten someone it’s best to look into all of your insurance options and make sure you’re covered beforehand.

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