Each year, more than 4.5 million people are attacked by dogs in the United States, and more than 800,000 victims need medical attention for dog bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Texas has led the U.S. in fatal dog attacks and ranks near the top in dog bite claims each year. The Lone Star State has followed the “one bite rule” since the 1970s which means owners may not be held responsible for a dog’s first bite. That makes it harder for victims to be compensated for injuries unless the dog has previously attacked someone else.

Why do dogs bite?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says there are many reasons why dogs attack people, including:

  • Reacting to a stressful situation
  • They are scared or feel threatened
  • To protect themselves, their owners or their puppies
  • They are sick or become startled
  • They can nip or bite during rough play

How to prevent a dog attack

Even good-tempered dogs can be unpredictable, and there are instances when they can become aggressive if they are unprovoked. When you are around an unfamiliar dog, the AVMA recommends:

  • Maintain confident but cautious body language
  • Do not approach the dog
  • Do not run away, panic or make loud noises
  • Do not move and avoid direct eye contact
  • Do not disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating or taking care of puppies
  • Allow a dog to sniff you before you try to pet it
  • Pet an unfamiliar dog under the chin and not on top of the head
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and cover your ears and neck
  • Contact animal control about stray dogs or those exhibiting strange behavior
  • Do not encourage your dog to play aggressively

Seek legal advice if a dog attacks you

The CDC says one in five people attacked by a dog needs medical treatment, and the average cost of treating a dog bite injury here in Texas is nearly $30,000. If you are attacked by a dog, contact an experienced Austin personal injury attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve, especially if you have extensive medical bills or lost wages after being forced to miss work due to those injuries.