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What steps should you take when you’re bitten by a dog?

They’re our best friends. We share our lives with them, and they give us unconditional love in return. However, as much as we see dogs as four-legged people, the fact remains that most scientists believe domestic dogs are descended from gray wolves, and there’s still a part of them that’s a wild animal. That means unpredictable behavior from dogs you aren’t familiar with; even “friendly” dogs can attack when they feel threatened.

Every year, nearly 4 million Americans suffer a dog bite, and these bites carry a strong risk of rabies, tetanus and bacterial infection. So, what should you do if you or your child is bitten by a dog? Of course, you should get to medical professional as quickly as possible, but here are a few helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Irrigate the wound thoroughly as soon as possible with saline or water.
  • Gather as much information as you can about the dog, including the breed, its owner and any outward signs like frothing at the mouth or unusual aggression.
  • Take pictures of the scene, the dog and the wound. This can be helpful both for the doctor and for any legal action you might decide to take.
  • Get all the appropriate tests and ask about antibiotics to help prevent the spread of infection.

Dog owners have a duty to make sure their pets don’t pose a danger to society. If you are bitten by an animal, it shouldn’t be up to you to take care of medical expenses, lost wages or rehabilitation. An attorney can help you determine the next steps.

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