Did you know that there were already 1,283 reported dog bites in Houston, Texas, at the start of 2022?
According to the National Canine Research Council, Houston earned the spot as the Dog Bite Capital of America from the U.S. Postal Service in 2018.
It is no surprise, therefore, that some of the deadliest dog attacks happened in Houston, Texas. While some dog bite victims were lucky enough to survive and recover from that traumatic experience, others did not stand a chance from the attacks of these violent dogs.
In 2022, a man was killed by several dogs in Channelview. In 2021, a 48-year-old woman was found cold and lifeless in her backyard because of a possible attack by her dogs. In 2019, a woman was mauled to death by three pit bulls and ended up lying in a ditch. In 2006, a 41-year-old man was attacked by a Pit Bull, which left over 90 percent of his body covered in brutal bites.
What if you are attacked by someone’s dog or your own family dog? Can you protect yourself?
This is why it is very crucial to consult and seek the assistance of a dog bite lawyer when you are a victim of a dog attack.
Read on to learn how to save yourself from a vicious dog attack!
Before and During a Dog Attack
Based on a Special Report, the following are the breed of dogs responsible for the fatal human attacks in the United States in the span of 20 years (1979-1998):
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
- Doberman Pincher
- Chow Chow
- Great Dane
- Saint Bernard
Unfortunately, two of the dog breeds mentioned are listed as a favorite in Texas: the Pit Bull and the German Shepherd. By far, the consequences of these choices have not been pretty. Year after year, dog attacks have been widespread, making Houston, Texas, third on the list among the countries in the United States with the most dog bite claims in 2011 and on top of the list among the capitals of America with the most dog bites in 2018.
Imagine the chances of you getting attacked by a vicious dog in Houston, Texas!
If you are a dog owner, educating yourself is one step to avoiding liability in dog attacks: choosing a dog that is appropriate for your lifestyle, conducting adequate research on what breed of dog you should get, and training your dog depending on its breed profiles.
However, if you are not a dog owner but live in a neighborhood with dogs, be careful and take preventive measures.
Here is all the information you need to know to avoid a dog attack.
- Befriend your Neighbors and their Dogs
According to a report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 256 dog attacks in the US spanning ten years are not directly related to dog breeds.
In other words, dog attacks are preventable for a responsible owner and a cautious neighbor. Remember that both nature and nurture play an essential role in dogs’ behavioral development and well-being.
Therefore, be sure to take precautions yourself!
Start by getting to know your neighbors and their dogs and identify which neighbors have problematic dogs. Be familiar with your surroundings. By knowing which dogs to stay away from, you will likely avoid a potential dog bite.
Avoid leashed dogs as much as possible. Do not try to approach or pet the dog without the proper advice of the owner. Steer clear of unleashed dogs within your vicinity or even those leashed.
Most dogs usually hunt together. If you see a pack of dogs, it is better to turn around and change your route even if you do not see any signs of aggression. Having a proactive mindset is valuable in conflicting times like this. This is the kind of risk you want to avoid taking.
- Be Aware of Dog’s Body Language
While some dogs’ body language indicates playfulness, others signal an impending attack. A perfect example would be a wagging tail.
Remember that a wagging tail does not always mean the dog is friendly.
According to experts, most people pay more attention to the tail than to the dog’s front end, such as showing bared teeth and growling while wagging his tail. If you have this mindset, you are in for a disaster. A dog’s wagging tail conveys different emotions— a happy wag, a super excited wag, a friendly wag, a submissive fearful wag, an anxious wag, and an aggressive wag. A wagging tail may signal that the dog is ready to interact with you, but it may also be a positive or negative interaction.
When a dog stops to wag their tail, and their body remains stiff around you, the direct translation is, “Leave me alone, human.” Do not interact.
Remember, never interrupt eating or a nursing dog.
Does this mean you have to be aware of every single body language of dogs? No.
This means that you have to be on high alert when dealing with dogs because they suddenly switch from a playful state into one of agitation.
Some signs of an aggressive dog that could lead to a full-blown attack include but are not limited to the following:
- Snarling (a combination of showing bared teeth and growling)
- Rapid wagging of the tail
- Rigid body posture
- Standing tall with a wide stance
- Biting at the air
To avoid dog attacks, pick up on the cues a dog is giving you. Recognize potentially dangerous situations. Remember that you could be very careful around a dog, respect its body language, and get attacked.
Pay attention and be ready to act quickly.
- Be a Tree and Be a Log
To protect your life from an impending dog attack: Be a Tree.
When a dog is showing his teeth, barking, or growling at you, all you have to do is be a tree.
Stand still and be quiet if you suspect a dog is about to attack. Fold your arms, tilt your head down and watch your feet. Do not freeze but instead relax and count your breaths. Please do not attempt to make eye contact with the dog because dogs interpret it as a threat. Do not run or scream. Do not make any unnecessary movement or noise while a dog is approaching you, such as running, walking away, or towards the dog or shouting, because dogs will consider it an invitation to play chase-bite games with you. Do not move until the dog is gone or help comes.
Another reminder that can save your life: Be a Log.
If a dog knocks you down, curl yourself over like a ball and be still like a log. Do not squeal or cry. Do not try to fight back because this can escalate the attack and invite further aggression from the dog. Instead, keep your fists and arms in front of your upper body and cover your head, face, and throat. Do not pull back because the damage is already done. Pulling your arm from the dog’s mouth will more likely worsen your lacerations while not freeing you at all because dogs’ jaws are solid and robust. Instead, keep the dog from shaking its head while biting to avoid tearing your skin and flesh. Do not attempt to push the dog, as it may put a paw in your eyes.
If possible, reach for something you can put between you and the dog’s mouth — a stick, a twig, a metal, an umbrella, or anything that can repel the bite. If you do not have anything, you have to let the dog take an edge on your arm while the other arm tries to wrestle with the dog.
If the dog is already calm, slowly move out of the dog’s territory and gently say, “Good dog. It’s okay. I’m not a threat. Go now.”
After a Dog Attack
Once the worst part is over, get up and find a safe spot while asking for help or waiting for animal control. Call emergency services and seek immediate treatment. Do not freeze. Do not stare at the dog. Do not find the owner. Just go. You only need to think about yourself now.
After a dog attack, you may find yourself in an extraordinarily conflicting and stressful situation. You may be confronted with the following questions:
- “How do I pay for my hospital bills?”
- “How do I locate the owner of that vicious dog?”
- “Can I ask for compensation from the owner?”
- “Is it right to wait for my full recovery before I demand compensation?”
- “Will I be able to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder after getting discharged?”
- “How much compensation do I need to settle my case fairly?”