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Dog bites can be serious no matter what the breed

There is a lot of momentum to get certain breeds of dogs banned from cities and communities because they are perceived as being vicious and prone to biting. Typically, it is pit bulls and other bully breeds that get the worst of the rap for being overly aggressive.

That is not unwarranted, however, as one statistic cites pit bulls as responsible for 26 dog bite fatalities in 2018, or 72% of all attacks by all breeds. But those same statistics also cite a chihuahua that was responsible for a death that same year.

If it has teeth, it can bite

The problem with banning or being wary only of certain breeds is that it can give residents a false sense of security that they will not run into a vicious dog capable of biting them when they are out for a jog, riding bikes or when their children are waiting for the school bus. All unfamiliar dogs running loose should be perceived as potentially vicious. Parents should teach their children not to approach stray dogs and to always ask the owner before petting a dog being walked on a leash.

Then, too, even the sweetest-natured dog can bite under the wrong conditions, e.g., a mother protecting her pups, a dog that's in pain or being teased.

Recognize the signs of canine aggression

Dogs can't speak to us to tell us there's a problem. But that doesn't mean that the dog isn't trying to show you in its own way not to approach it. Raised hackles, an upright, stiffly swaying tail, showing the whites of its eyes and looking away from the child or person approaching it all are signs that you need to stop advancing and slowly back up. Never turn your back and run, as that can trigger a dog's prey drive and they will chase you and maul you.

What happens if you get bitten by a dog?

A serious dog bite requires immediate medical attention. Bites to the face may require several rounds of cosmetic surgery. The face, ears, hands, feet and throat are all vulnerable areas that dogs can target when they bite. Your recovery could be prolonged and grueling, leaving you with a mountain of medical bills you can't pay.

Seeking civil justice by holding the owner of the dog liable or the premises where the attack occurred may be necessary to overcome such a setback.

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