Q: My child was attacked by a vicious dog in Harrisburg and suffered a serious dog bite injury. What should I do?
A dog attack is a frightening and painful experience for a child. The attack may cause emotional damage that lasts a lifetime as well as serious physical injuries, pain and permanent scarring. Many dog bites can be prevented by teaching children how to behave safely around dogs. Other attacks happen without warning and parents are left to help their children cope with the aftermath of the incident. Following are the nine steps to take if your child has been attacked by a dog:
- Call 911 if the injury is severe.
- Find out who owns the dog so that you can determine if the animal is up-to-date on immunizations. If you do not know who owns the dog, take a picture of the dog or write down a description of the dog to give to animal control.
- Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water in order to help prevent infection.
- Contact your doctor for medical advice. Dogs have strong jaws that can cause fractures as well as damage to soft tissues, so the doctor may send you to the emergency room.
- Report the dog bite to police or animal control to establish a written history of the incident.
- Report the bite to your local health department. They will follow up on the incident in order to ensure that the dog involved does not have rabies—a fatal infection passed to a dog bite victim through the dog’s saliva.
- If the bite is on the neck or face and the emergency room doctor recommends stitches, request the services of a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons can close wounds in a way that reduces scarring.
- Ask the doctor if your child needs antibiotics since dog bites are easily infected.
- Talk to your pediatrician about counseling if your child seems anxious, fearful or has bad dreams.
If your child is the victim of a dog attack, the steps listed above will help you to handle the situation. Once you have taken care of your child’s medical needs, contact an experienced dog bite lawyer at Schmidt Kramer to learn more about your legal options.
The toll-free number is (888) 476-0807 and the case review is free. You may also wish to download a free copy of our e-book Who Pays My Injury Claim: Understanding Joint and Several Liability for more information.