Have you ever seen a dog go crazy over a squirrel, or a toy that zips across the floor? All dogs have a prey drive, or the instinct to hunt and chase things that move quickly. It’s a leftover trait from their ancestors, who needed this drive to hunt for food. But for most of our modern pups, it’s more about the thrill of the chase than the catch.
Sometimes dogs will chase down a person, animal, or object for fun; while other times they may do so because they feel threatened. This is typically an aggressive act, or a behavior issue, which is different from simply chasing.
Unfortunately, this can be bad news for cyclists. Bike riding is a fun sport with many health benefits, but riders often have to worry about being attacked by a dog. In fact, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and a substantial 1% is due to bicycle-related dog attacks.
In this article, we’ll discuss what to do if you’ve been injured from a dog bite while riding your bicycle, including fall injuries and emergency care.
A common scenario
Dog attacks can happen anywhere, but they commonly occur when someone is riding a bike on a public street, and a loose dog becomes overly excited. Imagine this scenario:
John was cycling down Maple Street, enjoying the fresh air, the sun on his face, and the escape from his busy workweek. However, as he approached Mr. Taylor’s house, a streak of fur bolted from the front yard. His Golden Retriever, Rocky, was barking and running after John.
With adrenaline surging, John tried to pedal faster, but Rocky managed to close the gap, and in a split second jumped and bit him in his calf. Hearing the commotion, Mr. Taylor dashed out of his home. He shouted the recall command and Rocky reluctantly released his grip on John’s leg.
In the majority of bicycle-related dog attacks, not everyone has the split-second timing of Mr. Taylor, nor do their dogs respond to commands. If you were in John’s shoes, what could you do?
When a cyclist is confronted by an aggressive dog, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some steps to take:
- Stay Calm and Avoid Panic: Dogs can sense fear and anxiety. Keeping your composure can prevent the situation from escalating.
- Dismount Slowly: If you have time and it’s safe, dismount from your bike slowly.
- Protect Yourself: Use your bike as a shield, especially if you’ve fallen. The idea is not to hurt the dog, but to have something between you and it.
- Avoid Direct Eye Contact: In the dog world, maintaining eye contact can be perceived as a threat. It’s better to look away and stand your ground.
- Carry a Deterrent: If you’re in an area where dog attacks are common, consider carrying a deterrent like pepper spray or an ultrasonic dog repellent. Remember, the goal is to deter the dog, not to harm it permanently.
- Call 911: If you’re not capable of calling 911, then someone at the scene of the accident should. If the bite is serious, police will arrive and file an official police report. Paramedics may also be present.
- Call Animal Control: Animal control will arrive on-site to help de-escalate the situation and assess the dog’s behavior. If the attack was done by a stray dog, then it will most likely be taken to the pound.
- Exchange information: It’s important to get the dog owner’s information in order to file a lawsuit against them for injuries caused by the dog attack.
- Report the Incident: If you haven’t already, report the incident to the local authorities and animal control once you’re safe. They’ll want to know about aggressive dogs in the area.
- Seek Medical Attention: If you’re bitten, it’s crucial to get medical attention promptly. Dog bites can cause infections, and you’ll want to ensure the dog was vaccinated against rabies.
- Document Everything: Take photos of your injuries and the location of the attack. Note down any witness details and their account of what happened. Witness testimonies will significantly help strengthen your case if you choose to file a personal injury claim.
When a bicyclist is attacked by a dog, they’re often left with serious injuries, including broken bones that can lead to mounting medical bills. Navigating the aftermath of such an attack can be challenging, but with the expertise of a personal injury lawyer, victims have a fighting chance to build a solid personal injury case and secure the compensation they rightly deserve.
Have you been bitten on your recent cycle? Don’t just pedal on. The Law Offices of Robert Brennan, personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, can help you recover the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, suffering, and more.