If the skin is broken rabies can be a concern (unless in a country where rabies does not exist, such as in the United Kingdom). Bites where the skin is broken should always be reported, especially when the dogs has not had a rabies shot in the last year, or when its vaccination history is unknown.
That’s it. All other dog bites are a judgment call on if they should be reported or not. Of course there are many cases where a bite “should” be reported but are not, and many times when people panic about a reported bite and put whole breeds of dogs at risk from being exterminated even if they are not mean at all. Read more about cities that have killed family dogs simply because of their breed – click here.
If hospitalization occurs, as when bites are so bad they require stitching, or further serious damage is done to a victim. This can be in cases where the vaccination history of the dog is known, but reporting allows the victim the chance to sue the dog’s owner if it is a case where the owner was negligent. This is more of a suggestion - than a Rule. In this case the person reporting the bite should take into consideration if they caused the bite, or if the dog’s owner was at fault.
Of course most people do not report dog bites made by the family pet on a family member. For this reason we often hear news stories of “Pit Bull Attacks Stranger” but not “Chihuahua Bites Owner”, that, and the sensational effect of envisioning a big dog attacking somebody.
Most people who are bit by their own dog will simply go to their doctor. If the dog has not been vaccinated there are extra steps (a rabies hold – it does not mean the dog is killed) that should be followed. As well the dogs training should be addressed later.
Pet owners do need to take bites by their own pets more seriously. There are three problems when dogs bite – the dog, the owner, and the person bitten.
By Nicor [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons – 3 day old dog bite -
The Dog and The Owner
In some cases dogs that bite have not been properly socialized, it may think it is dominant, or has food issues which have not been addressed. In other cases the dog is an intelligent breed but not being given enough mental stimulation so is frustrated and communicating with its mouth. While it is the dog who has the problem, the problems are the result of an owner error, or failure, sometimes even the wrong breed of dog was selected. Intact male dogs, are more likely to bite, but there are many other reasons that dogs are likely to bite.
The Person Bitten
Often times the one who was bitten shares some of the blame. This is very much the case when children are bitten – their squealing voices, random behaviors, or smothering the dog, irritate the animal and while most dogs give warnings, children fail to see or understand those warnings and in turn get bit.
Most dogs do not bite without provocation, however in our human world we do not even allow for bites under these circumstances and many dogs, even those provoked into biting will be euthanized.
Be Aware if you allow your child to crawl on your pet dog, and are one of those who says “My dog is so good my child can crawl on it and it will not bite”, you are setting yourself up for disaster. One day your dog might bite, or worse, one day your child might mishandle some other dog (or other pet) in this disrespectful way. Read more here on good dogs vs bad kids.
Who To Report Bites To
In most areas you report the bite to your local SPCA, or humane society, they will direct you as far as what to do next, which will vary depending if the dog has had up to date vaccinations for rabies. If the dog is not up to date it will be placed on a 10 day rabies hold. If charges are to be laid the police need to be contacted.
I encourage people to think about the bite, rather than feeling anger towards the dog, and its owner. Was the victim provoking the situation? Did the dogs owner do everything to keep their dog from biting (a fenced yard, dog on leash, and so forth)?
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