Dog bites have become a major concern for Maine residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about two percent of the U.S. population are bitten each year by a dog.
Dogs are an important part of many Maine families. They can be loving, fun and considered part of the family. Unfortunately, they do sometimes act unexpectedly and may bite and cause injuries. Even if a dog is not malicious, if you are bitten a serious injury can occur.
Even if a dog doesn’t have a history of biting, you should be aware of aggressive behavior that falls below biting, such as growling, snarling or bristling at people. If a dog is injured, just like an injured human, it may push a dog over the edge. The owner of an injured dog has a duty to keep the injured dog away from someone who may inadvertently touch the injured area of the dog during a friendly pat, causing the dog to bite.
In most cases, the dog had never bitten anyone before and the owner did not think it was a hazard to anyone. Statistics for dog bites to people in Maine show that bites have most frequently been caused by dogs considered to be of the “friendliest” breeds. Dog bites, regardless of the extent of injury, are traumatic experiences.
Maine has a leash law, requiring that all dogs be on a leash as all times unless being used for hunting. If you allow your dog to run free, even in places that you may deem safe to do so, you run the risk of your dog biting someone. Do the right thing for your dog, yourself and for others: keep your dog on a leash.
Here are some important things to keep in mind if you are bitten by a dog:
- Contact your local animal control officer and identify the dog.
- Obtain the name, address, and dog license information of the owner of the dog.
- Obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any possible witnesses.
- Obtain insurance information from the owner of the dog.
- Take pictures of the dog bite.
- Understand that Maine has special laws regarding injuries from dog bites. You might want to contact a personal injury lawyer, such as Briggs and Counsel for a consultation.
By Eliza Stoll for Briggs & Wholey
Copyright 2008 Briggs & Wholey