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Dog Attack: How to Protect Yourself

Updated on January 13, 2011

Recently, in my home state of Georgia, an elderly man and wife were attacked and killed by a pack of dogs. According to neighbors, the dogs had never shown any agression before. They looked like black lab crosses and din't appear to be particularly menacing. Supposedly, the owner of the dogs had moved away and only returned to the house every other day or so to feed the canines. The lady just happened to be taking a walk when she was attacked, and when she didn't return home, her husband got worried about her and went to look for her. Then he was fatally attacked, too.

I love dogs, but I've had enough experience with them that I realize no dog can be trusted 100% in all situations. We don't know what might set them off or provoke them into a bite, or even worse, a full-fledged attack. Even a small dog attack can be devastating, and a medium or large dog can inflict serious injury or death to its victim.

Below are some tips for keeping yourself safe around dogs:

* DO NOT approach a strange dog. If you see a dog being walked on a leash, and you'd like to pet him, ask the owner first, from a safe distance. Even if the owner gives the ok, appraoch the dog slowly and don't make any sudden movements. Place your fist, palm side down, to the dog's nose and allow it to smaell you before attempting tio pet it. Some dogs on leash are protective of their masters, so keep this in mind.

* DO NOT make prolonged eye contact with a dog. When you do, you are challenging him.

* DO NOT run from a dog. Most canines have an inherent instinct to chase prey. If you run, you might be seen as prey. Most dogs can run faster than most humans can.

* If a dog confronts you in a threatening manner, say "NO" in a firm voice. Then back away slowly, keeping your arms still and down to your sides. Remember not to make eye contact with the animal.

* If your dog is attacked by another dog, never get in the middle of the fight. If you have access to a water hose, spray the dogs from a safe distance.

* Never come between a dog and its food - not even your own dog. Teach your children this important rule.

* Never leave small cildren alone with a dog - even if the dog is part of your family. Too many things can happen. Kids are often rough with animals, and the dog might try to defend itself with a bite or a nip. Teach your children to respect animals.

* If the unthinkable happens and you're attacked by a dog, roll into the fetal position and cover your neck and face with your arms. You might be able to subdue a small dog, but not a large one. After the attack, seek medical attention immediately. Then try to find the dog's owner and procure the vet records to see if it's current on shots. Find out from the owner or from neighbors if the dog has ever bitten before. Some states have a one-bite law that forgives the first bite. Is there a leash law in your community? Was the dog leashed? you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an attorney who specializes in dog bites and dog attacks. Many pet owners carry liability coverage for their dogs to ensure that a victim's expenses will be taken care of.

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