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Please beware of dog-bite injury risks this summer

Now that summer is here, kids are out of school and outdoors. In many parts of Connecticut, kids are still free to roam their neighborhood without much adult supervision. This is normally pretty safe, but there are some hazards. Perhaps most notable among these is the risk of dog bite injuries. About 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bites each year, and most victims are children. About 20 percent of injuries are serious enough to require medical attention.

Most dogs are lovable and friendly. The ones that are mean and vicious are usually this way because they have been abused or improperly socialized by their owners. And when those owners fail to restrain their pets and other people get bitten or knocked down as a result, the owners of the dog and the property may be held liable in a lawsuit.

If you like to go on walks or have kids who will be playing outside this summer, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from dog attacks. First of all, it's important to know how to read a dog's body language.

Most of us can tell when a dog is friendly and relaxed. He will likely wag his tail. His body will seem relaxed (as opposed to tense) and his ears may be perked up but not stiffened. Although dogs don't smile in the way humans do, a relaxed dog's face may look like he is smiling.

Conversely, a dog that feels threatened or ready to attack will have very different body language. He may be:

  • Crouched or tensed
  • Growling
  • Furrowing his brow
  • Licking his lips
  • Moving around in an evasive way

If you encounter a dog you don't know, it may be best to avoid approaching or trying to pet him. Moving slowly past him may be the best way to keep him calm.

If a dog approaches you very quickly, you may be able to calm him by standing very still, avoiding eye contact and being very quiet. If the approach turns into an attack, you should curl up into a ball with your hands protecting your neck.

Dog attacks are not always preventable. Ultimately, it is up to the dog's owner to make sure that their pet is properly socialized and properly restrained. If you or a loved one is attacked by a vicious dog, please seek medical attention. Then, seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: WZZM ABC 13, "Kids & Pets: Staying Safe Around Dogs," Denise Pritchard, June 12, 2014

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Bridgeport, CT 06604

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