What To Do When Attacked By An Unleashed Dog

Encountering an unleashed dog while out for a walk can be a nerve-wracking experience for pet owners and pedestrians alike. While most cities in Florida have leash laws to protect public safety, it's not uncommon for these regulations to be flouted.

While most dog owners could never imagine their pet hurting another dog or a person, situations can sometimes escalate and lead to serious injuries and even death. Keep reading to learn more about your options when bit by an unleashed dog.

angry dog ​​with white fangs barks and growls. dogs bite

Handling The Aftermath Of A Dog Attack

Getting attacked by a dog can be a traumatic experience, no matter how large the dog or how serious the injuries are. We understand that, in many cases, the emotional wounds of a dog attack can be far more long-lasting than the physical ones.

If you were attacked by an unleashed dog, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Your attorney will help you start the process of filing a claim so that you can get the medical care and compensation you deserve. Here are some things you can do to help ensure you get the maximum compensation for your injuries.

Post-Encounter Actions

After the attack, check yourself and your dog for bites or injuries. If you or your dog sustain injuries, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately. The risk of infection from a dog bite can increase if it's not treated immediately.

Proper medical care can provide insight into the dog's behavior and mitigate future incidents. Family members or witnesses should offer support as needed, accompanying the victim to doctor appointments or helping care for the injured dog.

Reporting Incidents

After you’ve received medical attention, you should report the incident immediately. To start the process, you can contact local authorities, such as animal control or the police. Timely reporting ensures that appropriate action is taken and helps prevent future incidents.

Provide accurate and detailed information, including a description of the dog, the location of the incident, and the injuries sustained. If possible, obtain the contact information of witnesses to support the report.

You can also report the incident through your vet or the emergency room you visit for treatment. Ensure you get all the documentation for your injuries, the reports, and anything else pertinent to the incident.

In some cases, the owner of the unleashed dog may be held responsible for the incident, especially if negligence or lack of discipline can be proven. Once you’ve been attacked, it’s best to avoid any further contact with the owner of the dog, especially if you haven’t retained a lawyer.

Local leash laws could also impact the liability for dog bites, it’s especially important that you speak with an attorney who’s familiar with these types of injuries.

Leash Laws

Leash laws often set out dog owners' legal obligations, including penalties for non-compliance. These regulations are usually enacted to prevent dogs from running loose, which can lead to dog bites, fights, traffic accidents, and other public health and safety issues. They also serve to protect the welfare of the dogs themselves from similar dangers.

In Miami-Dade County, for example, all dogs must be kept on a leash in public. The leash must be no longer than six feet long, and the dog must be under control at all times. Miami-Dade County has designated "dog-friendly parks" where dogs are allowed to run free in designated areas. However, leashes are required outside of these specific areas.

Violating leash laws in Miami-Dade County can result in citations and fines, which shows how seriously these laws are taken to protect community standards and the well-being of pets and people.

Minimizing The Potential For Dog Attacks

Leash laws ensure that dogs are controlled and managed by their owners in public spaces. These laws aim to minimize the dangers of uncontrolled dogs, including biting, fear-based aggression, and territorial behavior.

By looking for these signs, pet owners and people who work with dogs can take appropriate precautions when dealing with potentially aggressive or reactive dogs.

Recognizing Aggression

Aggression in dogs can manifest itself in different ways, and it's important to know the signs of aggression to avoid potential incidents. Some common signs of aggression are growling, baring teeth, snapping, and lunging. However, it's important to know that not all aggressive behavior may lead to an attack.

Some important signs of aggression include:

  • Growling: A low, guttural sound, often a warning sign.
  • Baring of teeth: An aggressive dog may bare its teeth threateningly.
  • Snapping: Quick bites directed at people or other animals.
  • Lunging: Sudden or forcefully towards a person or another animal.

Reading Body Language

A dog's body language can help predict its intentions and potential reactions. A dog's posture, eyes, and overall demeanor make it possible to gauge their emotional state so you can act accordingly. Some key characteristics to look for include:

  • Posture: A dog displaying aggressive or dominant behavior often stands with a stiff and forward-leaning stance, while a fearful dog may crouch or tuck its tail between its legs.
  • Eyes: Dilated pupils can indicate arousal or aggression, whereas a "whale eye" (showing the whites of the eyes) may signify anxiety or stress. A dog maintaining intense eye contact might exhibit signs of aggressiveness or dominance.
  • Body: A relaxed dog usually has a curved, wagging tail and a loose body. In contrast, a stiff tail and tensed body might suggest an aggressive or reactive dog.

Safety Equipment

If you frequently walk through areas popular for people walking dogs, you may want to bring some preventative safety equipment when you leave the house. We would never suggest attacking or hurting someone’s pet in any way, but there are some measures that can help ensure everyone’s safety such as:

  • Treats: Carrying treats can serve as a distraction for an approaching off-leash dog. Throwing a treat away from you can encourage the dog to chase after the treat, giving you some time to gain distance.
  • Citronella spray: A citronella spray is a safe and humane option to deter an aggressive dog. It gives off a strong scent that most dogs find unpleasant. Aim the spray at the dog's nose, and it should prevent him from coming any closer.
  • Pepper spray: Pepper spray is another option for self-defense, but it can cause more irritation to the dog. Only use it as a last resort if necessary, and ensure it's legal in your area.

Speak To An Injury Attorney Today

If an unleashed dog attacked you or your pet in Florida, you may have a claim for damages. The best way to find out if you have a claim is to start a free case review with an attorney at the Weinstein Legal Team. Your consultation is free, and you won’t pay anything for our legal services unless we win your case.

Contact the Weinstein Legal Team at 888.626.1108 or click here to schedule your free case review with a Florida injury lawyer near you. 


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