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How much is that doggy in the window? And how about the food and toys? Oh, and the vet bills? And how much for the fence outside? By the time all of these expenses stack up, that doggy is pretty expensive. Perhaps that’s why many dog owners don’t opt for the fence, at least not right away. What owners may not realize, however, is that this leaves them vulnerable to liability, especially in cases where their canine companion is deemed “dangerous.” Such is the case in Illinois.

Wisconsin personal injury attorney David Lowe recently wrote about a 17-year-old Wisconsin boy who suffered a fractured skull after running into a tree. Why the rush? The boy was fleeing a Rottweiler that broke its chain. The dog didn’t bite the boy or touch him in any way, but it did break its chain. Thus, its owner was cited for failure to keep the Rottweiler behind a fence.

With warm weather upon us, more people will be leaving their furry friends al fresco. Likewise, more children will be outside soaking up the sun. Although a child’s desire to ‘pet the cute little doggy’ may seem innocent, it is important to recognize the potential for disaster. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 800,000 people receive medical treatment for dog bites each year. In fact, on average, 12 people die from dog bites each year. Personal injury attorney Kenneth Phillips has a very comprehensive website that addresses prevention of and compensation for dog bite injuries.

Although pet owners have the primary responsibility to keep their pets in line, the AVMA provides things that you can do to minimize your chances of getting hurt:

How can my family and I avoid being bitten?

Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your own pet with respect. Because children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, parents and caregivers should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the look out for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Start teaching young children – including toddlers – to be careful around pets.

Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs. Teach children to ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting the dog.

Other tips that may prevent or stop a dog attack

Don’t run past a dog: Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Don’t give them a reason to be come excited or aggressive.

Never disturb a dog that’s caring for puppies, sleeping or eating.

If a dog approaches to sniff you, stay still.
In most cases, the dog will go away when it determines you are not a threat.

If you are threatened by a dog, remain calm.
Don’t scream. If you say anything, speak calmly and firmly. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay still until the dog leaves, or back away slowly until the dog is out of sight. Don’t turn and run.

If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face.

By following these tips, you can help keep your loved ones, both human and canine, as safe as possible. And that will give us all less to growl about.

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