A pet dog is a cherished member of the family in one-third of households in Pennsylvania and around the country. Unfortunately, this means that dog bite injuries are extremely common in the United States. About one in five dog bites are serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, and a dog's saliva can be just as dangerous as its teeth. The Centers for Disease Control urges Americans to disinfect dog bites even if no further medical treatment is necessary to prevent the spread of illnesses caused by bacteria such as Clostridium tetani, MRSA, Pasteurella and Capnocytophaga.
Avoiding dog bite injuries involves taking a few common-sense precautions and learning a little about dogs. One of the first things to understand is that dogs are fiercely protective. Even docile pets may attack without warning if they think that one of their loved ones is in danger. Unknown dogs should be approached with caution and treated with care until trust has been established, and sleeping or preoccupied dogs are best given a wide berth.
A dog's body language can also give away some warning signs. A fearful or angry dog may tense up, pull its ears back and stiffen its tail. Excessive yawning, tongue flicking or staring may also be signs of distress. Experts advise those who believe that a dog attack is imminent to resist the urge to flee and instead remain still with their hands at their sides.
An experienced personal injury attorney may consider the facts carefully when pursuing civil remedies on behalf of a dog bite victim. Factors to consider include the previous behavior of the dog involved and whether or not it was properly restrained at the time of the attack. Dog owners who do not warn others about their pet's dangerous tendencies or actually order them to attack could find it especially difficult to explain themselves to a jury.