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Animal bites: Know how to prevent and treat dog bites

Dogs are a very popular pets for Wisconsin households and others across the country. In fact, recent data shows that there are over 83 million dogs in more than 56 million homes nationwide. However, almost 90 percent of all animal bites come from dogs, surveys citing around 4.5 million attacks annually.

Despite the staggering numbers, the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contend that those figures are underestimated. Officials there believe that, in many instances, bites go unreported. Victims may not see medical professionals for treatment. Experts stress the importance of reporting the incidents and getting proper medical attention.

A dog bite can cause serious damage to a person's skin. An infection following a bite is likely as well since bacteria from the dog enters into a victim's system. Of course, rabies is a major concern as well. Some people may even require major reconstructive surgery following an attack.

Animal advocates remind individuals of certain behaviors to be followed when around dogs. No one should go near a strange dog; rather, call authorities if one is exhibiting aggressive or unusual behavior. It is helpful to allow a dog to sniff someone before attempting to pet it. It is never prudent to interrupt a dog when it is taking care of its puppies, sleeping or eating. If someone is bitten, the attack should be reported and medical treatment should be sought immediately.

When animal bites occur, victims and their families have a right to pursue personal injury litigation against the animal's owner. In a strict liability state like Wisconsin, the owner is liable for a dog's behavior, whether or not the animal has attacked before or previously exhibited aggressive tendencies. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist clients through the complexities of the legal process. A successful outcome in a lawsuit could provide families with compensation to pay for hospital expenses, physical therapy and/or counseling for the trauma from the attack.

Source: victoriaadvocate.com, "Learn how to prevent dog bites", Arnold Ecle, Nov. 15, 2017

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