What should I do if my dog bites someone?

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Every dog has the potential to bite and cause serious damage—even small lap dogs.  The best thing you can do as a pet-parent is prepare an action plan should your dog ever bite another person or their pet.  If your dog bites someone, take the following steps:

  1. Stay calm and restrain your dog. If the bite happens at your home, confine the dog to a crate or another room. Don’t panic as this can unnecessarily stress-out the dog and victim.
  2. Be nice and courteous to the victim. Don’t lay blame or get defensive. Expressing genuine concern will help diffuse the situation. Remember, they will have to make a decision to sue you so it pays to be nice.
  3. Get a police report. It may seem against your interest to get the police involved but a police report can help keep the victim from claiming injuries that could not have been caused by the bite. It also shows that as the dog’s owner, you stayed around and made sure the victim was ok.
  4. Trade detailed information. NEVER leave the scene without giving the victim your information. Provide your insurance information, if applicable. Once your dog has bitten an innocent person, there is no denying your liability. You should do the right thing and take responsibility.
  5. Obtain witness information. If there were witnesses, obtain their contact information. If the police are called, they will typically take witness statements at the scene. This is another benefit of obtaining a police report.
  6. If the bite happened at home, contact your insurance agent. Some homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies cover dog bites that occur in the home. Your policy may cover some of the victim’s medical costs.
  7. Contact your vet and obtain your dog’s medical records. You will need to show proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination history. Failure to do so may require that your dog be placed in quarantine. Be sure to give the victim a copy of your pet’s vaccination records.
  8. If the bite caused serious damage, contact a lawyer. If the victim has been seriously injured, it is advisable to hire an attorney.
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