As it’s National Train Your Dog month, now’s a good time to remind ourselves of what to do in those unexpected times when a pet’s behavior spins out of control. We certainly hope that it never happens, but pets can exhibit aggressive tendencies. For instance, has your pet ever tried to snap at a passerby? Have they ever reacted in rage when startled? Unfortunately, these behaviors and situations do happen, and when they do, the results can be devastating.
For dog owners, having your pet bite someone is one of the worst things you can imagine. And, it can even happen without warning. Perhaps your pet has shown issues with aggression in the past, or perhaps they’re as docile as they come – you just never know what unexpected trigger may come out of nowhere to set them off. But, it’s because of these unpredictable situations that you, as a pet owner, must be prepared.
What are you supposed to do if your dog lashes out and bites someone? Well, first things first, you need to remain calm so that you can react and take appropriate action. Whether you yourself were bit or someone else, you may be faced with a serious injury, a lawsuit, or even the possibility of your pet being taken from you. So, how you handle can really make all the difference in how an incident is ultimately dealt with.
These are the steps you must take in the event that your dog bites someone:
- Stay Calm – If your dog bites someone, it’s important to stay calm for the sake of everyone involved, especially your dog. The last thing you want to do is get them riled up, as it will only make the situation worse. It’s also important to be kind, polite, and caring when dealing with the victim. Remember, how the issue is handled is ultimately in your hands. Your calm, compassionate demeanor could keep them from pressing charges or worse. So, don’t escalate matters by getting defensive and starting an argument.
- Get Help – Seek medical attention immediately for the injured party. It’s also wise, not to mention good manners, to also offer to pay for the victim’s medical bills.
- Exchange Information – As you would in any other accident-related situation, exchange information with the other party. Be sure to write down names, addresses, phone numbers and any other pieces of relevant information.
- Follow Up – This is such a crucial step, as it’s not only showing that you’re a compassionate human being, but it could make all the difference in the resolution of the incident. Be sure to reach out to the victim after the incident, and check on their recovery progress. Again, be kind and courteous, and show that you genuinely care about their well-being. Just remember to be mindful of what you say. Even after the fact, there’s always the possibility that the victim will file a lawsuit.
- Provide Medical Records – After an incident like an attack or bite, get ahold of your dog’s medical records, and make a copy of them for the victim as soon as possible. This will, at the very least, give them ease of mind knowing that their health is not at risk.
- Seek Advice – Even if all appears to be peacefully resolved, you may still want to seek legal advice, especially if the bite was severe. Should the victim ever decide to file a lawsuit, ask for monetary damages, push for criminal charges, etc., you will need to protect yourself and know what you could potentially be facing. Remember, it’s better to be prepared than surprised.
- Contact Your Insurance Agent – It’s a smart idea to find out whether or not your insurance agency covers things like animal attacks. This will help you better understand how the chips may fall in the event that a lawsuit is filed. If you do have coverage, some insurers actually offer medical payments coverage that you can in turn provide the victim to appease the situation.
- Be Honest – If a victim does file a report, and you’re contacted by the authorities to give a statement, be completely honest. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to lie! This will only hurt you and your dog in the long-run.
Dog attacks are horribly unfortunate situations for all of those involved. But, once they happen, you need to take immediate action. If you have any concerns that your dog may be exhibiting aggressive behavior, consider taking them to a professional animal behaviorist for training to curb those tendencies before they wind up hurting someone.