Dog bites taken seriously in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania ranks as one of the top states for dog bite claims. Pet owners may be held responsible for an attack.

Most animal lovers associate dogs as furry companions that love everyone. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some dogs, whether due to temperament, owner negligence or other factors, will bite and cause serious injuries. Dog bites are a significant concern for Pennsylvania residents. According to Bankrate, Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the country for dog bite claims, with 861 such claims in 2014.

Most dog bite victims knew the animal

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that every year, over 4.5 million people across the country receive dog bites. Out of these, nearly one-fifth of the victims need medical help. The following factors may illustrate the potential severity of dog attacks:

• Half or more victims of dog bites are children.

• Most dog attacks were from a dog the victim knew.

• Everyday activities, such as feeding or playing with dogs, often precipitate a dog bite.

• Children are more likely than other victims to sustain serious injuries or be killed by a dog attack.

• Elderly people follow children as those most likely to be bitten by a dog.

There are numerous precautions people can take to reduce their chances of being attacked by a dog, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, children should be taught never to go up to a dog they don't know or to run away from a strange dog, which may trigger an attack response. Aggressive play with the animals should not be encouraged, and young children should not be allowed to play unsupervised with a pet. People should not bother a dog that is eating, sleeping or taking care of puppies.

Dogs escape from yard and attack other dogs, people

Despite these precautions, tragic incidents may still occur, as illustrated in a recent case. Lehigh Valley Live reported that last October in Lehigh County, two boxer-pit bull dogs escaped from their owner's fenced yard. They pushed through a neighboring fence to attack two smaller dogs that were outside. The dogs had killed one dog already before authorities arrived, and two people - including the smaller dogs' owner - were attempting to protect the second smaller dog from the attack. Both people received bite injuries, and the second dog later died. The larger dogs' owner was cited for the incident.

Dog attacks are terrifying and can cause devastating injuries in a brief amount of time. Owners who fail to restrain their pets or who are otherwise negligent, resulting in another person being injured, may be held liable for damages. After a dog bite injury, it is important to contact an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney to discuss possible compensation.