What to do if you're a victim of a dog attack

An 8-year-old boy was playing catch with his neighbours’ dog one evening when the dog suddenly turned on him and attacked. The dog bit the boy multiple times and when police arrived the dog was biting the boys throat. Luckily, the child was sent to the hospital and made a full recovery.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. 

According to injury data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP), more than 5,000 dog bites are reported each year in Ontario and that in Canada, 42 dog bites occur every hour.

A dog bite injury can range anywhere from mild to severe, and while there are a plethora of dog bite victims, very few people actually seek legal help for their injuries.

Many hesitate to do so because they know the dog owner. A dog of a friend, relative, neighbour or acquaintance injures 35% of victims.

In 1990, the Ontario government established the Dog Owner’s Liability Act to protect public safety and the victims of dog bite attacks. This law makes owners strictly responsible for any injuries and damages resulting from their dogs attack or bite on a person or a person’s pet.

In the instance of being attacked by a dog, the first thing to do is seek medical attention right away. An important tip is to take a picture of your wounds to use as evidence for your case. Also make sure to take photographs over time to show the stages of healing and document the permanency of any injuries such as scarring. 

MedicineNet offers more information about what you should do when a dog has bitten someone.

What can happen: Injuries

The damage caused from dog bites can range from skin damage, injury to muscles and nerves, as well as infection. Here are of some potential complications from a dog bite injury:

  • Permanent scarring
  • Rabies
  • Fractures from falling
  • Tetanus
  • Sepsis (blood infection)
  • Endocarditis (infection of cardiac tissue) 

Contracting rabies is a common concern for victims, and it’s crucial to know if the dog has been immunized. In the situation that the dog hasn’t been immunized, you should look into getting medical help to protect yourself against the virus. If a rabies exposure is not treated and a person develops clinical signs of rabies, the disease can be fatal. 

A number of approaches may be considered depending upon the situation surrounding the bite.

With more severe injuries, they will need to be repaired in the emergency room, or if there are associated injuries that require treatment such as fractures from falling. According to CHIRPP, more than half (57.9%) of injuries need to be treated professionally. 

There’s a higher likelihood to repair lacerations with infants and children in the operating room, especially if facial wounds are involved, because of the need for prolonged anaesthetic to keep the patient still.

However, dog bite injuries are more than skin deep, they can cause serious psychological strain. 

Psychological injuries that follow a dog attack can linger for years – especially in children, who are at the highest risk. 64% of dog attacks occur to children aged 2-9 years.

Compensation for dog bite victims

Victims of dog attacks owe it to themselves to pursue full and fair compensation for their physical and emotional injuries.

If you, your child, or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, our lawyers at Harris Law have the experience to get you the compensation you deserve.