According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the U.S., with 900,000 resulting in infection. While many get bit by a dog they know, strays are part of this total. If you find yourself in this situation, what should you do?

Handling a Stray Dog

German ShepherdWhen you notice a stray dog, specifically one you have never encountered before, keep these basic safety behaviors in mind:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar animal
  • Never run away or make loud noises
  • If the dog approaches you, let it sniff and smell you first. Stay still, quiet and don’t look the animal directly in the eyes.
  • If the animal is eating, sleeping or caring for puppies, do not approach to pet.
  • If the dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and cover your ears and neck.
  • If you spot the stray animal at a distance and notice it behaving strangely, report it to animal control. You could be dealing with a dog infected with rabies.

If You’re Bit

Even when you behave safely, you could still get bit. What should you do after a dog bite occurs?

    • Have your injuries examined and treated by a doctor, including a rabies shot. While few dogs in the U.S. carry rabies, the percentage increases when you’re dealing with a stray. Should you not receive treatment, the condition eventually manifests as acute encephalitis, which infects the peripheral nerves, progresses through the nervous system and may become fatal.

  • Call animal control to report the attack and provide them with information about where the incident occurred, a description of the dog and how it behaved.
  • If possible, try to track down the dog’s owner to report the attack and further inquire about insurance information. See if you can find out if the dog has done this before.
  • Always hold onto evidence, including any clothing the dog may have bit through. Should you pursue a claim, this can help determine the type and severity of the bite. After the incident, bag your clothing and don’t wash the items.

Determining the Dog’s “Keeper”

Unfortunately, not every dog has a proper owner. Rather, the dog may have wandered off from someone in charge of watching him. Temporary or permanent, this role could be:

  • A kennel or shelter employee that let the dog wander off or get loose.
  • Someone watching the dog while the owner is out of town.
  • A dog walker who’s temporarily responsible for the dog, even for a few hours.
  • A landlord enters a tenant’s apartment and lets the dog out while the tenant is away.

In many cases, a stray may simply be a dog who has traveled too far from home. Should you decide to pursue a claim, you may have to determine who should have been monitoring and controlling the dog.

Pursuing a Claim

Experiencing a dog bite is a traumatic event. Going through a dog bite injury claim involving a stray proves to be far more difficult. As your injuries heal, find out who should have been responsible for the dog, including an owner, entity like Animal Control or a shelter. As you go through these steps, be sure to contact the lawyers at Trantolo & Trantolo involved. To learn more, reach out to our team today.