For thousands of years, dogs have been domesticated and are typically friendly companions. However, they and other animals are mostly governed by instincts which will cause them to revert to their historically more dangerous nature when they become threatened or provoked.
Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of dog bites occur, many of which involve young children as victims. Typically, younger victims are not aware of how to behave around animals and are unable to defend themselves if attacked.
Every year, dog attacks result in approximately 360,000 emergency room visits. The actual number of attacks could be much larger, as many attacks are not reported or victims do not receive emergency room treatment. Over half of the personal injuries sustained are reported to be from the family’s own pet.
Ultimately, the owners or keepers of a dog or other animal are responsible for the animal's behavior. Some determining factors in whether or not a dog will bite include level of training, social skills, health of the dog, and whether the dog is provoked.
If you are attacked, the first thing you should do is seek medical help. Even if the bite is small, treatment may be necessary to prevent bite infection or tetanus. If possible, you should attempt to identify the type of dog which attacked you, where it is located, and who owns the dog. Determining whether or not the dog has rabies or some other communicable disease is important.
Dogs are not the only animals that cause injuries. Learn more about cat bite injuries in North Carolina.
You should notify Animal Control any time you are injured by an animal. The emergency department will usually have the necessary information for filing a report. You may also wish to seek legal counsel before filing a report to make sure that you take no actions that will restrict your right to file suit.
If you are able, take pictures of the wound, the animal that attacked you, and the location where the attack occurred. You should record any information you can obtain about the animal’s owner and, if possible, get the license number from the dog’s collar. If the owner’s insurance company attempts to contact you, refuse to agree to or sign anything before consulting an attorney to ensure you don’t accidentally waive your rights.