What to Do if You’ve Been Attacked or Bitten by a Dog?

Beware of Dog Bites - Joplin, MO

The two most important things you can do after a dog attack is call the police and seek medical treatment right away. The police and animal control should respond to your location to capture the dog and prevent it from biting anybody else. An immediate police response will also help identify the dog and its owner, which is extremely important for holding the owner legally responsible and preventing future attacks. Animal control will also attempt to confirm whether the dog has an up-to-date rabies vaccination. If the dog’s vaccination status cannot be confirmed, standard operating procedure is to quarantine the dog and observe for signs and symptoms of rabies.

Seek immediate medical treatment for large or deep bites or any bites to the face, head, or neck. Large dogs usually cause deep puncture wounds in the area of the bite. Bacteria from the dog’s mouth is usually implanted deep in the wounds and carries a very serious risk of infection. Your emergency room doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics and inspect the wound for any damage to muscle, tendons, or bones. Be sure to follow-up with your regular doctor in the following days so he can monitor the bite sight for infection as it heals. Never ignore signs of an infection. These signs include a fever, nausea, and redness, swelling, or pain at the sight of the bite.

Very serious dog bites may require immediate surgery to reconstruct the tissue at the sight of the bite. Surgery is commonplace for bites to the face, head, and neck, or when there is extensive damage to the skin, muscles, or tendons of the victim. Often these very serious bites require multiple surgeries to repair the damaged tissue and minimize scarring.

Even if the dog bite does not appear to be serious, you should still get checked out the next day by your regular doctor. Of course, immediately wash the wound with soap and water to help minimize the chance of infection.

In the days following your dog bite or attack, you should call and speak to an attorney knowledgeable about handling dog bite cases. The owner of the dog is probably insured and his insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills and lost wages, as well as a fair amount or any scarring, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. It is very important to contact an attorney early on so he or she can identify the dog, its owner, and any witnesses, and confirm the dog’s rabies vaccination status.

Please see our Practice Areas page for additional information regarding dog bites, or call us today for a free consultation at (417) 385-1338.