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Not Always Friendly: Dog Attacks May Be Deadly

Cranwell & Moore P.L.C. Feb. 14, 2023

Dog bite victims in Virginia may be able to seek compensation after being attacked by someone else’s pet.

Millions of dogs are owned in households in Virginia and across the United States. The majority of these pets never cause significant harm, but some do bite and cause serious injuries or death. Few things can be as terrifying to witness or experience as an animal attack. Unfortunately, those who are harmed by vicious dogs are often some of the most vulnerable people in society.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people across the country every year. Out of these, about one in five need medical attention for their injuries. At least half of all serious dog bite victims are children. Disturbingly, most dog attacks are from dogs the victims knew and were interacting with during ordinary activities, such as playing, feeding or walking the dogs.

Teaching Children to Prevent or Avoid a Dog Attack

With children being so vulnerable, it is crucial that they understand “dog etiquette,” or how to treat pets and react to a dog they don’t know. Children are often excited to see a dog and may approach one thinking that it won’t bite or show aggression. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Dogs that feel threatened or scared may bite, even if it is a person they know and trust.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided the following tips for interacting with dogs:

  • Children should never approach an unfamiliar dog that is alone without an owner present.

  • Before petting a dog, a child should first ask the owner if it is all right, then allow the dog to sniff the top of the child’s hand.

  • A person should never run away from a dog, which may trigger its predator/prey instinct. Instead, the safer thing to do is to avoid making eye contact and stand still until the dog moves on. It may also help to slowly back away from a strange dog.

  • Nobody should disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies.

Additionally, young children should never be allowed to play with a dog without adult supervision. Nothing is more painful to parents than the loss of a child – these tips may help prevent a tragedy.

Virginia Dog Bite Law

According to the Virginia State Assembly, dog owners may be held liable for medical expenses and other damages if their pets harm another person, as long as that person was not trespassing on the owner’s property or tormenting or provoking the animal. If you or a loved one was injured by another person’s animal, you may be eligible for compensation. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a dog bite.