Many of us are dog lovers. We just cannot resist the urge to approach a dog we see in public. We see dogs in parks, on front lawns, on sidewalks walking their owners (who really owns whom?). But all of us, dog lover or not, have at least once in our lives been intimidated or threatened by man’s best friend. And an unlucky few of us have been victims of dog attacks. We walk down a street, turn a corner, and come face to face with a snarling, growling canine. What do we do?
First, it is important that you stay calm. Even if dogs can’t smell fear (and I’m pretty sure they can), waving your arms and screaming is a dead give away. Dogs are predators by nature. If you act like a scared bunny it’s going to treat you like a scared bunny. So stand tall and keep cool.
Which brings me to my second point: do not run. I know that your instinct is to flee from danger, but ask yourself: can I outrun a German Shepard? The answer is no, so do not try. Instead, calmly and slowly move away from the dog. Do not make eye contact with the animal, but keep him in your peripheral vision. In order words, do not turn your back to him. If you make a calm retreat, the dog is more likely to let you leave his territory.
If the dog persists in being aggressive, however, you need a shield and a sword. Look around you. If there is a large stick, grab it and hold it out towards the dog while slowly retreating. If you are wearing a backpack or a heavy coat take it off and use it as a shield. If the dog charges and you have nothing else, grab a rock and chuck it at him. A rock is likely to startle the dog, but remember: do not run. If the rock stops the charge, pick up another rock and keep throwing until the dog backs off. Stand your ground until it is safe to walk away.
If the dog does attack you, then fight like hell. You’re going to think I am crazy, but offer one of your forearms to the dog. This will leave you three other limbs to fight back with and to protect your throat. Kick, punch, or stomp at the animal with all of your might. Do not stop fighting back until the dog let’s go. Once the dog lets go and backs off, resume holding what you had to shield or protecting yourself and slowly back away to safety. Do not turn your back on the dog.
Once you are safe, see a medical professional immediately if you have serious wounds. If the wounds are not serious (use your best judgment), then:
- Take a picture of your wounds;
- If people witnessed your attack, then you need to get their contact information;
- If possible get the name and address of the dog’s owner or those who had custody of the dog at the time. This may not be possible at the time of the attack;
- Go see a doctor as soon as possible to get treatment and to ensure you don’t have any diseases from the bites like rabies. Also, have your doctor document the bites; and
- Report the attack to animal control, the police department, humane society or whatever agency does animal control in your city. The agency will likely ask for the contact information of any witnesses so give it to them if you have it. But most importantly, the agency needs to know who the owner of the dog is. If you have that information, great. But if not, you need to find this out either by asking people that live in the area or perhaps asking one of the witnesses if they know.
It is important to report any dog attacks, even if the wounds are minor, because the owner needs to be held accountable for their dog’s behavior. You may have got away relatively unscathed, but next week that same aggressive dog could attack a child and that child may not be so lucky.
If you or your loved ones (furry or not) have been the victims of a dog attack, please contact us today. We will go over your case and determine what legal options are available to you.
For reporting dog attacks in the city of Seattle, contact Seattle Animal Control at (206) 386-7387 or visit their website at: http://www.seattle.gov/animal-shelter/animal-control
For King County, contact Regional Animal Services of King County at (206) 296-7387 or visit them at: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/regional-animal-services/animal-control-response.aspx
This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS for educational purposes only. The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice. Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers. Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.