Picture walking your dog in one of Seattle or Tacoma’s verdant parks, basking in the tranquility of nature and the city’s unique fusion of urban and natural beauty. Out of nowhere, a strange dog without a leash suddenly runs at you.  Within the blink of an eye, you or your pet is nursing a painful injury, the result of a sudden and unexpected dog bite.

The Facts on Dog Bites in Seattle and Tacoma

According to data from the Seattle Animal Shelter, Seattle recorded an estimated 324 dog bites in 2021, up from 284 in 2020. Tacoma showed a similar upward trend, with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reporting a 10% increase in dog bites over the same period. Dog bites can result in a range of injuries. Here is a detailed breakdown:

  • Puncture Wounds: This is the most common type of injury caused by dog bites. The force exerted by a dog’s jaw can pierce the skin and even damage the underlying tissues.
  • Lacerations and Abrasions: These are deep cuts or scrapes on the skin surface caused by a dog bite or scratch, often leaving scars.
  • Fractures: In more severe cases, a dog bite can lead to bone fractures, particularly in small children or the elderly.
  • Infections: Bacteria in a dog’s mouth can enter the wound and cause an infection. Some common infections include Pasteurella, MRSA, and tetanus.
  • Rabies: Although rare, there is a risk of rabies transmission from an infected dog to a human through a dog bite.
  • Nerve Damage: In severe cases, a dog’s bite can cause nerve damage leading to loss of sensation or motor function.
  • Emotional Trauma: Beyond physical injuries, dog bite victims often suffer from emotional and psychological trauma such as fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Disfigurement: Serious dog bites, especially those on the face, can lead to permanent disfigurement. This may necessitate reconstructive surgery.

Role of Breed in Dog Bites

There is a popular misconception that certain breeds, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers, are more likely to bite. However, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest otherwise. Their report indicates that a dog’s likelihood to bite is not necessarily dependent on its breed, but rather on factors such as how it is raised, trained, and treated. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to dog bites:

  • Owner negligence: In many cases, dog bites occur because the owner was not properly supervising their dog. This may involve allowing the dog to run loose, or not taking steps to control the dog’s behavior.
  • Dog breed: Some dog breeds are more likely to bite than others. However, it is important to note that not all dogs of these breeds will bite. The CDC’s report found that the most common breeds involved in dog bite incidents are pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and mixed breeds.
  • Dog behavior: Even well-trained dogs can bite if they are provoked or startled. It is important to be aware of your dog’s body language and to avoid situations that could trigger a bite.
  • Age: Dogs that are under one year old or over seven years old are more likely to bite. This is because these dogs are still developing and may not have learned how to control their impulses.
  • Sex: Male dogs are more likely to bite than female dogs. This is likely due to testosterone levels.
  • History of aggression: Dogs that have a history of aggression are more likely to bite again. If you have a dog with a history of aggression, it is important to take steps to manage their behavior and to supervise them closely.

If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Even if the bite does not seem serious, it is important to get it checked out by a doctor to make sure that there is no infection. You should also report the bite to the authorities.

What to do next?

In Washington state, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 16.08.040) places the liability of a dog bite squarely on the dog’s owner, irrespective of the dog’s prior behavior. This law is helpful for victims who might not otherwise be able to prove the owner’s negligence or the dog’s dangerous propensities.

If you have been injured in a dog bite incident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can help you file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner to recover compensation for your damages.

Here are some additional tips to help prevent dog bites:

  • Do not approach strange dogs. Even if the dog seems friendly, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid approaching them.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you are walking in an area where there are dogs, be aware of their body language and avoid making any sudden movements that could startle them.
  • Supervise children around dogs. Children should always be supervised when they are around dogs. Teach children how to approach and interact with dogs safely.
  • Do not leave dogs unattended. Dogs should never be left unattended, especially if they are outside.
  • Properly train and socialize your dog. A well-trained and socialized dog is less likely to bite.

By following these tips, you can help to prevent dog bites and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Taking a Stand for Your Rights with Craig Swapp & Associates

Consider this scenario: You were bitten by a neighbor’s dog. The bite is severe, requiring stitches and leading to lost work hours. The trauma leaves you with a persistent fear of dogs. If you were to handle this alone, you might just ask the neighbor to cover your immediate medical expenses. However, a personal injury lawyer would ensure you get compensation for all your losses, both tangible and intangible.

At Craig Swapp & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the guidance and representation you need. If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite, don’t hesitate. Reach out to us today. We are your ally, fighting for the justice you deserve. Don’t let the bite of injustice linger. Get in touch with Craig Swapp & Associates today.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp