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4 important steps to take after a dog bite

Pet owners are expected to be responsible for their animals when they are out in the open, but the reality is that animals are animals and they may bite without warning. While some dog breeds are more aggressive than others, all breeds have the capability to bite without advance notice. Injuries from a dog bite can range from simple scratches and punctures to debilitating head wounds and even death. When a dog bites, the owner may be responsible for covering any costs incurred as a personal injury.

In 2014, 42 people died as the result of a dog bite or attack. If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, follow these four steps to ensure that proper medical treatment is received and that you document evidence of the incident.

1. Get written statements

If there were other witnesses who saw the bite happen, get their names and addresses so police can take a written statement if it comes to that. You will also want to get the name and address of the dog's owner or whoever had custody of the dog at the time of the bite. If the dog is a stray, the situation becomes more complicated because you don't know if the dog has received her or his shots, and you may need to be checked for rabies or other diseases.

2. Photograph your wounds

Take pictures of even the smallest wounds after a dog bite, because a picture can speak a thousand words while written or spoken statements can be disputed. Photograph your injuries immediately if possible and document everything with the time and date.

3. Seek medical treatment

If you have been bitten by a dog, it's a good idea to see a medical professional. Dog bites can lead to serious infections and death. If the wound is on your face, you may want to request that a plastic surgeon handle the treatment so the wound doesn't scar. Follow any directions given to you by a doctor and make sure to complete taking the medications you are given.

4. Report and cooperate

There is an agency in your jurisdiction that handles dog bites and animal control, and you need to make a formal report with them to document the incident. Cooperate with officers to guarantee you have solid proof of what happened.

Dog bites can cause serious injuries, and you may incur medical costs that you can't cover. Fortunately, your injuries and treatments could be compensated for by the owner of the dog. You may benefit from speaking to an attorney if you are dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite.

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