According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite about 4.5 million people in the United States each year, with one in five dog bites resulting in injuries that require medical attention. Children and the elderly are the most common victims.
Pit bull attacks over the last six months in Southern California:
May 10: Alex Cuevas, 15, and her dog Cocoa, a 14-month-old Shih Tzu, were mauled while walking in their Corona neighborhood. Alex's ear was nearly severed and had to be reattached by a surgeon. Cocoa had to have an eye reinserted into its socket by a veterinarian. The dog responsible for the attack was euthanized.
May 8: A pit bull attacked a sheriff's deputy and bit a second officer during a foot chase of a burglary suspect in Lake Mathews. The deputies fatally shot the dog.
April 20: Margarita Negrete, 74, suffered severe head wounds when she was attacked at her Colton home by the family pit bull, which also killed another family dog. The dog later charged police, who shot it dead.
April 8: A 57-year-old woman was bitten and scratched on her hands and her dachshund was killed by two pit bulls in Hemet. One of the dogs was captured, the other escaped.
March 5: Bruna Secco, 76, was bit and suffered broken ribs in an attack by a pit bull near her San Jacinto mobile home. She was rescued by onlookers who beat the dog with baseball bats; the dog was euthanized.
Feb. 8: Elsie Grace, 91, was mauled to death by two family pit bulls in a Hemet hotel room.
Jan. 17: Waly Nichols, 84, was critically injured by two pit bulls as she walked near her home in Jurupa Valley. The dogs were euthanized and their owner was cited by animal control for allowing his dogs to get out and for failure to license the dogs, give them rabies shots and implant microchips.
Dog attacks can be extremely traumatic and often require care to address mental and/or emotional injuries. Furthermore, we know from our experience that dog bites can often result in permanent scaring, a type of injury which requires particularized strategies and knowledge to ensure that a victim is fully and reasonably treated and compensated.
While dogs are wonderful pets, any breed can turn vicious and attack without provocation. In most animal bite lawsuits, the owner may be liable in compensating the victim for all medical bills as well as lost wages resulting from the attack.
Here are some tips to help prevent dog bites and provide a safe environment for both you and your pets:
Post a Beware of Dog sign on your fence or house to avoid any surprises.
Train your dog to obey simple commands like "sit," "stay," "no" and "come." Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs in any situation.
Collar your dog, so you have the means to quickly restrain your dog in any emergency.
Dogs may become more protective in the presence of their owners. Dog owners or guardians should make sure their dog is securely confined where it cannot come into contact with strangers, a utility worker or unfamiliar visitors.
Securely confine or relocate your dog, especially during scheduled customer service visits and when it's time for utility workers to read your meter.
Contact your local utilities or check your monthly bills for the dates when utility workers are scheduled to conduct meter readings. On those days, leave gates unlocked and keep your dogs or other pets securely confined in another section of the property.
Leave a note on your meter explaining that you have a dog and how and where it is confined.
Be sure all vaccinations and inoculations for rabies and parasites are up to date.
If you get a new dog, contact your local utilities to let them know.
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