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When Man’s Best Friend isn’t Friendly


Many dog lovers consider their furry friends part of the family.  And why not? A dog can be an excellent companion, is loyal to the end, and loves you in spite of your worst flaws.

Unfortunately, even dogs who have always been mild mannered have been known to become aggressive at times. If you are the victim of a dog bite, a good personal injury attorney can help you navigate in the aftermath.

Dog Bite Statistics 

Are dog bites a big problem in this country? The numbers tell the story, and those numbers are alarming:

  • Four and one-half million people experience dog bites annually in the United States;
  • Nearly 20 percent of those people (800,000) require medical attention;
  • Half of the people seen for dog bites are children, and they generally sustain much more serious injuries;
  • The second largest group of people seen for dog bites is senior citizens;

Owner Liability 

Naturally, dog owners are responsible for keeping their dogs under control in public. Florida statute clearly lays the liability for a biting dog on that dog’s owner in settings such as parks, sidewalks, and other public venues. The owner cannot get off the hook simply because the dog has never bitten anyone previously.Even on private property, the owner is liable for aggression toward a young child. If older individuals are attacked, the dog’s owner is liable unless there is a prominently displayed sign including the words, “bad dog.”

Staying Safe 

Keeping yourself and your family safe from dog bites can be tricky, because many of us naturally want to reach out and pet the cute critters we come across from time to time. Experts do have some tips to keep us safe:

  • Look for signs of aggression such as ears forward and up, hair standing on end, stiff stance, and growling, barking, lunging, or baring teeth;
  • Avoid dogs who seem frightened, shrinking, tail between legs, yawning, and avoiding eye contact. In particular, this can be a dangerous situation if the dog feels cornered;
  • Teach children not to approach dogs who are caring for puppies, eating, chewing, or sleeping;
  • Get permission from the pet’s owner before approaching it;
  • Be aware that dogs are protective of their homes and car: don’t approach them.

If a Dog Becomes Aggressive 

Sometimes it is important not to follow your instincts when it comes to angry dogs. Experts have several suggestions for dealing with aggressive animals:

  • Avoid eye contact;
  • Do not attempt to outrun a chasing dog. If possible, try to put something between you and the dog: a jacket, bike, backpack—anything that’s handy;
  • If knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and lock fingers behind the neck to protect the ears and neck.
  • Try to stay still and quiet until the dog loses interest or help arrives.

If you Experience a Dog Attack 

If you or a loved one is involved in a frightening encounter with an angry dog and experience serious injuries, it is important to get medical attention right away. Several issues must then be addressed, such as the deportment of the offending animal, in addition to the physical and emotional well being of the victim. The compassionate personal injury team at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian understand how difficult situations like this can be.  We are anxious to fight for justice on your behalf. Contact our Tampa office today for a free, confidential consultation.


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