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What Responsible Dog Owners in St. Louis Want you to Know

If you are considering making a new puppy part of your family, it is important to know the facts about your dog ownership. Below are a few tips on meeting your new dog, and important things to keep in mind when you introduce him to other humans.

Extending a Hand May Scare a Shy Dog

A common mistake that many people make when they are introduced to a new dog is extending their hand so the dog can sniff them. Dogs are extremely territorial, and the quick movement of bringing your hand into his personal space could frighten him—causing him to lash out.

Paw Nation suggests that you should instead say “hello” to new dogs by tapping your hand on your thigh to simulate a wagging tail. The dog will interpret your positive body language and decide whether or not he wants to sniff you. Once the dog has become comfortable with your presence, you can extend your hand.

If your dog is particularly skittish or aggressive around strangers, let new people know that they should avoid reaching for your dog. If the animal becomes uncomfortable, you as his owner will be the first to notice. Move him to an isolated room or separate him from any strangers to avoid a bite incident.

Owning an Aggressive Dog Breed

Any dog of any breed can do a considerable amount of damage to a person if the animal feels threatened. While all dogs can bite, a bite from a Chihuahua is unlikely to be as severe as injuries accrued from a Pit Bull attack.

If you already have or are considering getting an aggressive breed such as a Pit Bull, Mastiff, Rottweiler, or Cane Corso as a pet, understand that your animal will be capable of posing a serious threat to those around you. When training your dog, establish yourself as the pack leader. This way, the dog will look to you for leadership when he is unsure of a new situation.

While many individual dogs that are considered an “aggressive breed” never threaten or harm a person, their sheer strength and size gives them the potential to be extremely dangerous. Always use caution when approaching larger breeds. Even if your pet has been fully trained, keep your large animal secured when he will be around new people that could potentially frighten him or cause him to become aggressive.

There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Bite”

Years ago, Missouri followed the “One Bite Rule.” That is, dog owners were only held responsible for a dog bite if they knew that their pet was a potential threat. Essentially, every dog was given one “free bite,” as long as the owner acted in a way that a reasonable person would act in a dog bite situation.

In 2009, the “free bite” was eliminated in the state of Missouri—making dog owners liable for the actions of their dog. Missouri dog bite victims are now only required to prove two things in order to hold the dog owner responsible:

  1. They were on public property or lawfully on private property at the time of the attack.
  2. They did not intentionally provoke the dog.

If you own a dog, or are considering getting one, it is imperative that you understand the laws of your state and know that you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your animal.

What to do After a Dog Bite

Puncture and tear wounds, facial scarring, and death are just some of the injuries that can result from a dog bite or animal attack. If you or someone you love have suffered injuries after being bitten or attacked by an animal, contact an experienced dog bite attorney to review your case.

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