There is approximately one dog bite per every 75 seconds in the United States. At least 4.7 million dog bites occur annually nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). Of these attacks, over 800,000 people required medical care for their injuries, and an estimated 40 people died from these tragic accidents.
Not every dog you see in the community is safe or fit to be around others. Now that summer break is almost here, Connecticut should be alert to unfamiliar dogs roaming the neighborhood when children are outdoors. Knowing which dogs to be cautious around and how to react in the case of a dog attack could save your life and protect your children from severe or permanent harm.
The Most Deadly Breeds
Dog advocates will tell you until they are blue in the face that a dog’s environment is what shapes aggressive behaviors, not the breed. Although these beliefs may be true, statistics continue to show that certain breeds are more likely to initiate unprovoked attacks, and parents cannot take a chance if one of these dogs approaches their family.
According to DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victim’s group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks, 471 Americans were killed by dogs between 2005 to 2018. These were determined to be the seven deadliest breeds within the 14-year period examined:
- Pitbull- 311 deaths
- Rottweiler- 47 deaths
- German shepherd- 20 deaths
- Mixed-breed- 20 deaths
- Mastiff/Bullmastiff- 17 deaths
- American Bulldog- 15 deaths
- Husky- 13 deaths
The remainder of the 471 fatal dog attacks were carried out by a combination of 35 dog breeds, each with fewer than nine attacks. Pit bulls were unsurprisingly at the top of the list for deadly attacks. Despite the efforts to show that pit bulls are a product of decades of abuse and neglect, this breed continues to kill more people every year than any other type of dog. This breed has the highest number of fatal and unprovoked attacks, particularly when it comes to attacking their owners and family members.
Health Consequences of Dog Bites
Dog bites can cause permanent and debilitating injuries that can be costly for victims to treat. Over 1,000 Americans seek emergency medical treatment for dog bites every day. DogsBite.org reports the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is 50 percent higher than the average injury-related stay, around $18, 200.
Types of injuries that can be sustained after a dog attack include:
- scarring and skin damage
- broken or fractured bones
- nerve and muscle damage
- deep lacerations
- severed limbs
Nearly one out of every five dog bites becomes infected, some with life-threatening diseases. Tetanus, MRSA, rabies, Pasteurella, capnocytophaga are all common infections victims can contract. If infections are not treated promptly, secondary health conditions can cause significant damage to a person’s body.
Children are most at risk for dog bites due to their innocence and size. Particularly for families who have dogs at home, children can be over friendly with strange dogs that put these animals in defensive and attack mode. Children are also less likely to be able to fight off larger breeds or to remember safety measures to use during an attack.
What’s The Law
In Connecticut, there are several laws dog owners must follow to maintain ownership of their pets. These are the laws residents should be familiar with:
Dogs do not have to be on a leash at all times, but they are not allowed to roam free. A dog owner may not allow a dog to roam on someone else’s land, a public highway, sidewalks, or state parks. Local governments can also create their own leash ordinances that best fit for their community’s needs
Dog Bite Law
Connecticut’s dog bite statute (CGS § 22-357) holds owners and keepers of dogs fully liable for any damages caused by the animal to someone else’s person or property. These laws are strict when it comes to protecting the public, and do not require the victim of a dog attack to prove that the owner or keeper 1) knew the dog was dangerous or 2) was otherwise negligent. Dog owners and keepers are not the only individuals who can be sued for dog bite injuries. The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that landlords who knowingly allow a vicious dog to live on their property, and who do not take active steps to remove the animal, can be liable for any injuries the dog causes to tenants or individuals on the premise.
If a dog in Connecticut bites a person, the laws require the dog to be held in quarantine for 14 days in a public pound, veterinary hospital, kennel, or other approved facility. The dog is checked for rabies and examined during the 14 days to asses its demeanor and risk to others if allowed to return home.
If the injuries or aggressive behaviors of a dog are severe enough, an animal control officer (A.C.O.) or the Department of Agriculture commissioner can order the dog to be put down. The victim of the attack must be notified within 24-hours of the decision.
Multiple Dog Attack
Some neighbors allow their dogs to run around with each other in the community and play unsupervised. Pack dog attacks are increasing in popularity and can be utterly terrifying for victims who are alone or with children. In the case of an attack by two or more dogs who have different owners, all owners are responsible for the entire amount of the damages suffered by the victim, not just the portion their dog was responsible for.
As soon as an accident occurs, victims should report the incident with visible evidence of an attack to the state, town, or regional A.C.O. where the dog is owned or kept. Not all victims of dog attack receive the same benefits as others. Any victims over the age of seven who are trespassing on the property, or guilty of teasing, abusing, or tormenting the dog that attacked them cannot file a liability claim against the dog owner- for obvious reasons.
What To Do When An Unfamiliar Dog Approaches
How you react in the first few minutes of a dog attack can greatly decrease the severity of your injuries or the possibility of an attack. The C.D.C. encourages individuals who believe they could be attacked by a strange dog to do the following:
- Stop! Stay still and be calm.
- Do not panic or make loud noises.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
- Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm, deep voice.
- Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Facing a dog directly can appear aggressive to the dog. Instead, keep your body turned partially or completely to the side.
- Slowly raise your hands to your neck, with your elbows in.
- Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.
Stay Safe Around Dogs
The best way to prevent injuries during a dog attack is to avoid these dangerous situations altogether. DogsBite.org encourages Connecticut residents to avoid the following behaviors to reduce the chance of an attack:
- Never leave an infant or toddler alone with any dog.
- Remove dogs with aggressive histories from your home.
- Assess your child’s risk when visiting family members who have dogs.
- Never approach a chained dog fence.
- Report stray dogs or packs in your neighborhood to the authorities immediately.
- Do not approach a vehicle with a dog inside.
- Watch out when passing dogs while walking your own dog or child on the sidewalk.
- Stay away from unfamiliar pit bulls and do not allow your child to be too rough or get too close.
Teach your children at an early age to be cautious of all dogs, even family pets. Family pets inflict over 53 percent of dog bites in the United States. Remember that any dog can be unpredictable. For more information on how to keep your family safe around dangerous dogs this summer, click here for resources and safety steps.
Connecticut Personal Injury Attorneys
Residents of Connecticut have the right to enjoy their community without fear of being attacked by a dangerous pet. If you or a loved one has sustained a dog bite-related injury, Jacobs & Wallace is here to fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation to review your case and your options for seeking justice.