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I or My Child Was Bitten - What Do I Do?

  1. Obtain immediate medical attention; ensure that other people do not remain in danger from the same dog while you attend to the injured person.

  2. Ensure that your child is assessed for emotional stress and obtains a referral for counselling if this is required. Talk to your child and monitor their behaviour even long past the incident. Click here for more information on how to help your child emotionally and to read answers to frequently asked questions from child psychiatrist Dr. R. Larry Schmitt.
  3. Instruct other children and bystanders to Be a Tree and remain still and quiet if the dog is still in the area.

  4. Animal bites can easily become infected so a visit to the doctor is essential if the skin was broken.

  5. Click here for information about first aid for animal bites from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

  6. Report the bite to your local health department. It is essential to find out whether the dog has had its vaccinations. Do not take the owner's word for this and do not worry about the dog owner "getting in trouble". Your or your child's health is more important than your relationship with the dog owner.

  7. Report the bite to your local animal services or animal control officer - even if there was no serious injury. If you do not know who this is, call your local town hall to find out who is responsible for animal control and public safety in your area. It is important that a record be established for the dog so that if it has bitten before, or does so again there is basis for taking further action.

  8. Report the bite to police - they will be able to tell you whether the situation warrants a police investigation.

  9. If you feel that other children remain in danger because of the dog and lack of supervision, report this to your local children's services agency so that they can investigate and take action if required.

  10. Obtain a professional opinion about the need for trauma counseling if you or your child seems fearful, acts differently from normal, suffers from nightmares or otherwise seems upset or disturbed in the days or weeks following the incident. Find out more about trauma counseling and learn what to look for in a counselor. In the US follow links from the Mental Health Association's site to local state organizations that may provide lists of counselors in your area.

  11. If your dog was the biter, confine the dog and report the incident to your local animal control and health department. If your dog is euthanized as a result of the bite and you need assistance dealing with the loss of your pet you can find help through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

  12. If you would like to speak to others who are also dog bite victims or family members of dog bite victims, join the Doggone Safe Victim Support Group. You are not alone!

  13. Read Kaylin's story and listen to her song of hope and inspiration.

  14. If you feel that you need information about legal issues related to the bite incident, click here to get started. To find a lawyer in your area do a Google search for "dog bite lawyer" and the name of your town or state/province. Here are some resources that we have found that may be useful. Some of these are paid directories and so may not list all the lawyers in your area:

  15. If you would like information about plastic surgery for dog bite victims visit the website of Dr. Bermant.

  16. In serious cases you may be able to obtain victim's assistance from the National Organization for Victim's Assistance (NOVA) in the US.

Some suggestions from other victims...

  1. Take photos of the victim, the dog, the scene and anything else that may be important later. Have a friend go back to the scene and take photos if you are unable to do so.

  2. Obtain the services of an attorney to help you negotiate with your insurance company.

  3. If you struggle with ongoing anger long after the attack, consider reading the book, "Forgiveness is a Choice: A step-by-step process for resolving anger and restoring hope" by Robert D. Enright


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