Bob Barker from the “Price is Right” once said, “a person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life.” While Bob is certainly entitled to his own opinion about dogs, a victim of an unprovoked dog attack will definitively have a different perspective towards dogs. An attack by a dog can change the way a victim feels about dogs forever.

Although dogs have been living with human beings for centuries, most of that time as domesticated pets, anyone who has seen a dog chase a cat can attest that they haven’t lost their predatory instincts. When those instincts drive them to bite or maim the result can be devastating because dogs have strong jaws and sharp teeth. They can literally tear human flesh causing massive loss of blood and skin, broken bones, nerve damage, organ damage, infections after the fact, and can kill or gravely injure the victim of the attack.

According to the 2010 – 2011 National Pet Owners survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), there are approximately 78 million dogs that live in 43 million households across the USA. However for every 40 seconds that passes by, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Annually, there are 800,000 bites that are serious enough to warrant medical treatment; most of the victims are children, and most of them are bitten on the face. Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to the ER.

Often a dog bite injury leaves the victim physically scarred around the face and neck, necessitating multiple dermatological treatments or surgeries to resume a normal appearance. The victim of a dog bite may even need years of follow-up treatment to fully recover emotionally, especially for child victims, requiring therapy or special accommodations to resume normal activity without fear.

As a personal injury lawyer, one becomes familiar with the commonality that dog bites represent. The unfortunate occurrence is that they happen frequently. Statistics from the federal Department of Health and Human Services reveal that dog attacks on average: kill 17 people every year, hospitalize 6,000 others, and send a total of 386,000 to emergency rooms for serious injuries.

Enough of the stats! If you, a friend, or loved one is bit by a dog, get medical attention right away (if serious), or apply first aid to prevent infection. Call the authorities such as the police or animal control, ID the dog & the dog owner, and above all cooperate with the authorities.

If possible take pictures (remember the power of your cell phone) of the dog and where he lives. Take pictures of the wounds and the bites. If “enough is enough,” then contact an attorney in your area that has experience in the technical nuances of dog bite litigation.

The San Diego-based Office of attorney Keith J. Stone serves the following areas in Southern California: