Giving Your Dog Space to Prevent Dog Bite Incidents
Dogs are like people: some of them just need a bit of space. That does NOT mean they are aggressive, dangerous, vicious or bad dogs, but it does present a challenge if you have your dog in public. Many say that if you have a dog with issues, they should never be taken out in public.
The general public has little if any idea as to how or when it is appropriate to pet a dog. Some children know to approach slowly with your approval, and they generally will hold a hand out, which is how they are taught. Unfortunately, most children will bolt towards your dog without any notice and then drop to their knees so they are face-to-face. Sometimes if you have a larger dog they will come up from behind and try to launch onto the dog’s back to ride it like a pony. For little dog owners it can be the worst, as the child may simply pick up your dog without your permission.
Many states have strict liability laws, and if neither your dog nor you have any defense, you are responsible. In other states there may be some consideration, however the trauma of going through an event like this is just as time-consuming and stressful.
So what can you do? There is the Yellow Dog Project, whose goal is to educate the public that a dog wearing yellow needs its space, but unfortunately very few people are aware of the program. Even worse is that attorneys are using it in lawsuits, claiming that you knew that your dog was aggressive, dangerous, vicious, or bad, and that you are an irresponsible dog owner for bringing the dog out into the public.
What to do?
Evaluate the situation to see if there might be a quiet place for you and your dog. Keep your dog on a very short leash. They are available and can cost as little as $6.00, though unfortunately due to the short length little dog owners can’t use these. A stroller may be an alternative for small dogs: they can go to the back so there is less exposure to the crowd. Again, be aware that anyone can walk up and stick their hand into the stroller, so many have screen enclosures to prevent that. Mid-sized dog owners should use a short 3-foot leash and keep it tight. With any size dog DO NOT put your dog on the extension leashes, as they can be 10 feet away if the lock does not hold. You cannot control your dog from even 6 or 7 feet away; things happen too quickly, and if your dog is uncomfortable in the crowd, you have just set them up like a time bomb.
People do seem to recognize that spiked collars, even on a 4-pound dog, are almost a universal signal that your dog is “bad”. No doubt a plaintiff’s attorney will use the same logic as with the Yellow Dog Project, though a spiked collar can just as easily be a personal choice.
Finally, dogs can be taught to wear a muzzle. There a number of different types, and with patience they will become comfortable with it. They will learn, “Oh boy, the muzzle! I’m going out!” No doubt some will say that is animal cruelty, but consider that your dog cannot bite anyone, which will prevent injuries and lawsuits. In addition, people tend to stay away from a dog with a muzzle. But be aware that your dog would not be able to protect itself from another animal, so consider carrying doggie mace or some other deterrent to stop an assaulting dog.
If you set your dog up in a situation where they are uncomfortable and they do injure a person or another animal, they are usually impounded, and they can be kept there until a judge allows their release. You may be required to muzzle your dog if it is even allowed out in public, the kenneling fee while in doggy jail accrues daily, and there may be a special kennel you will be required to build. The total of these can literally run in the thousands. In many areas insurance may be required, and we can often assist with dogs who have a rap sheet, though it is not a guarantee. The policies average around $300 to $400 annually but will be higher depending on the injury.
Rather than going through the trauma of a dog bite, consider prevention and canine liability insurance in case the best laid plans go astray.
About Dean Insurance Agency
There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.