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What steps should be taken after a dog bite?

Countless Worcester residents enjoy the companionship of man's best friend. Dogs, however, can occasionally act out and in some cases may bite another animal or a human. Unfortunately, over four million Americans experience dog bites annually, making it a serious personal injury issue for dog owners and local residents alike.

In the event of a dog bite, there are several steps which can be taken to lessen the negative impact of a sudden animal attack. First, in order to help prevent an aggressive dog from attacking again, it is wise to avoid eye contact with the animal and avoid quick movements. Once in a safe area, medical attention can be sought promptly. While some may be tempted to simply treat minor bites at home, it can be risky to not seek any sort of medical treatment. Dog bite injury can cause a harmful infection; symptoms include swelling, pus, redness or warmth.

If a dog is unfamiliar or if the bite goes deep, it is likely that medical attention is necessary. Typically, a doctor treating a dog attack victim will ask the following questions: was the dog a familiar animal? Do you know its owner? If so, can you determine if the animal is up-to-date regarding important vaccinations? Does the dog bite victim have any existing health concerns such as diabetes or liver disease? These and other ailments which suppress the human immune system can be of particular concern after a dog bite.

Another question the doctor might ask is if the bite incident was provoked or unprovoked. In many dog bite cases, a dog's owner might attempt to blame the victim for the attack. Massachusetts, though, has strict liability laws when it comes to dog attacks. After obtaining any emergency medical treatment, a dog bite victim can consult with a local personal injury attorney.

Source: WebMD, "Healthy Dogs - Dog Bites," accessed Aug. 14, 2015

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