Entrepreneur, writer, mom, and experienced digital marketing professional.
Stand your ground
If You Are Bitten Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
I was out walking in my neighborhood when the unexpected happened. A small dog ran out of its yard and up to me. Although it was barking, I really did not expect it to bite me, but it did. The little monster nipped at my leg but did not break the skin.
At nearly the same time, a black German Shepherd ran up and leaped at me, and tried to bite my face. I didn't realize at the time, but I made contact with the dogs head and it turned away. I stepped backward to gain some distance and the dog turned back around and once again jumped for my face. I screamed and once again put my hand out to stop the dog from attacking me. But this time the dog grabbed my hand and left a deep puncture wound in the palm of my hand.
If you run, the dog will chase you.
Puncture wounds can get infected
If a Dog Attacks You Call 911 Immediately and Start First Aid
I consider myself lucky that the owners were home, and happened to be outside. They did not know that the dogs had left the yard until they heard me screaming. The owner called the dogs by name and they returned to the yard. I had been walking in the street, next to the curb when the attacks happened, and ended up in the middle of the street after the second attack.
Even though the dogs had returned to the house, I wanted to create more distance and walked to the other side of the street. I was very upset and my hand was bleeding from a deep puncture wound. The owner asked me if I wanted him to take me to the hospital. I didn't want to go anywhere with him. I had my cellphone and dialed 911. I kept my hand elevated above my heart, and blood ran down my arm. Although the wound bled quite a bit, I did not apply pressure. I was more afraid of a bacterial infection than a little blood. So, I let the wound continue to bleed in hopes that bacteria and dirt would be debrided. If this had been a gaping wound, I would have applied pressure with my other hand and elevated above my heart to slow the blood flow.
My immediate concern after the dogs were secured was cleaning out the wound. Dogs have quite a bit of bacteria in their saliva and I was worried about the wound getting infected. It took 15 minutes and three phone calls for anyone from the Harris County Sheriff's Department and an ambulance to show up. The paramedics used hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound and also cleaned the blood from my arm. The police took a report about the dog attack, and the dog owners were cited for having an 'Unrestrained Animal'. The paramedics offered to take me to the hospital, but I did not have my ID or a credit card with me, so I declined.
Get First Aid Treatment for the Bite
Onsite Medical Treatment Should Be Followed by a Visit to Urgent Care
I was about 1/2 mile from home and I kept my arm elevated until I got home. Then I ran cold water over the wound for a few minutes to help flush out any remaining bacteria or germs. I'm not squeamish and this was not a life and death situation. However, I knew that dirt, saliva and other bacteria could cause a nasty infection if I did not get medical attention.
I located an Urgent Care facility near my home, confirmed that they were still open and drove to the site. The Urgent Care nurse gave me a sponge and explained that additional 'scrubbing' of the wound was required. Scrubbing the wound was painful, and they made me do this for 10-minutes. I was given a tetanus shot in the arm to prevent some really nasty stuff from occurring, as well as a round of antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, these vaccinations are a form of preventative medicine, and should be gotten every 10 years.
Follow Up With Animal Control and City Services
It took four days for Animal Control to contact the owner and confirm that the German Shepard was vaccinated. From what the Sheriff Department told me; the animals are required to be quarantined for 10 days unless the owners can produce vaccination records. I cleaned the wound a couple of times a day and covered it with Neosporin, an antibacterial ointment and a Band-Aid.
In all my life, no one has ever told me what to do if a dog attacks. It happened so fast that I'm not sure I could have used Mace if I was carrying it. The other issue with using that chemical deterrent is that wind direction matters. You don't want to spray it if the wind is blowing in your direction. The doctor told me that I should have been carrying a gun, and shot the dog. I have since taken Concealed Handgun License (CHL) training and am licensed in the state of Texas. Even so, the attack happened so quickly that I'm not sure I would have been able to draw a pistol while trying to keep the dog away from my face.
Find Out Your City Code Requirements for Pet Owners
According to the State Health and Safety Code (Chapter 8-26) in Houston, every animal bite must be reported. They suggest that you dial 311 instead of 911. However, not all cities have a 311 phone number.
Houston city code also suggests the following:
- Identity of the person that was bitten
- Contact information for the victim, including: address and phone number
- Date, time and address of the bite
- Clear description of the animal that caused the bite
- Owner's contact information if available
- Name, address, phone number
The One Bite Rule
Some states follow a 'one bite rule, but Texas does not. According to FindLaw.com, the one bite rule means that, "a victim can recover compensation from the owner, harborer or keeper of a dog if (a) the dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to, and (b) the defendant was aware of the dog's previous conduct. The tendency for a dog to injure humans is often referred to as "vicious propensities." If either of these two conditions aren't met, the victim cannot recover under this doctrine. In other words, Texas dogs gets one free bite before its owner is liable for damages." I don't know if I was the first person ever attacked by the German Shepard, but I have no doubt that he will bite again.
Texas' lack of dog bite statute is at odds with the majority of states because the one bite rule shields a dog owner from liability each time one of his dogs bites a person for the first time unless it can be proved that the owner knew that the dog had the propensity to bite people without justification. This makes is significantly harder for dog bite victims to recover damages
Who is Responsible For Your Medical Bills?
I was afraid and upset, but I was very concerned about getting the wound thoroughly cleaned so that I would not get an infection. The fear and the pain kept me from thinking beyond that point. The wound healed in a week, but then developed scar tissue. The dog owners at first refused to respond to the Harris County Sheriff Department and Animal Control. One of the lessons I learned from this situation was to capture specific information.
- The name of the person that owned the dog
- The owner's contact information
- Find out if the the dog vaccinated
I spent over $400 on medical bills from being attacked by someone else's dog. . I was terrified to walk up to the house and knock on the door, so I mailed a letter to the address where I was attacked, and included a copy of medical receipts. The owner called me and took full responsibility. She also reimbursed me for the cost of medical treatment. I sincerely hope that this information will be helpful to anyone else that may get bitten by a dog.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Michelle Orelup
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on October 19, 2015:
I'm convinced --I'm not gonna let a dog bite me! Well done and great advise.
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on September 08, 2013:
They did the right thing so I don't think they were teaching the dog to be mean. But I do think the dog needs better training.
Thomas Swan from New Zealand on September 08, 2013:
Very useful information and a shocking story. It's surprising to hear about dogs that just run into the street and launch themselves at people. I wonder if the owners were teaching their dogs some nasty tricks, or unsuccessfully trying to turn them into security dogs. From reading your last comment, it's great that they reimbursed you in the end.
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on September 03, 2013:
I found out later that the people living in the house were leasing the property. The police department said that if I wanted a copy of the police report that I would have to sue the DA (which made no sense to me). The report they provided me had zero information on the dog owners.
I am still afraid to go near their house but I wanted to knock on their door because I'm sure they were wondering what happened to me.
I discovered their last name through other means and went back to the police department only to be told that the first name did not match the name on the police report. As a victim of an attack by their dog, I had no authority to information about what happened, but they (the owners) had full protection.
I made copies of all the medical receipts, wrote a thoughtful letter that explained who I was, what happened on that day and that I expected them to reimburse me. I did not include my phone number because I did not want them to call me.
Apparently they had full access to the police report and my contact information which included my cell phone. They called me.
I was shocked. She told me that they are responsible people and that she was sorry for what had happened. She told me that she couldn’t pay the full amount, but could send ½ that week and the other ½ when she got paid at the end of the month.
I did receive full payment.
However, she told me that the dog is 1.5 years old and is ‘stupid’. That bothered me because they have young children. As far as I know, they still have the dog.
Thanks for your post. I really appreciate your insight.
Pamela Dapples from Arizona now on September 02, 2013:
I'm glad you are all right. I've handled many dog-bite insurance claims Even when there has been very little blood, it is the trauma that needs to be addressed and rightly so. Whether the person who owns the dog owns their own home or rents their premises, if they have an insurance policy, their liability coverage will respond to your claim for pain and suffering. This might help bring you some closure. You can talk to your insurance agent about it and decide if you want to put in a claim.
I think it is a good idea to have some kind of protection with you when you go walking. After an ordeal I went through years ago, I started carrying pepper spray. But with time -- comes a feeling of laxness and supposed-safety. I'm glad I read your article. It reminded me how fast things can happen and how we need to be prepared. It's better to still go out, yet be prepared, than to become afraid to go out walking. Walking with somebody, though, can also be a good idea.
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on September 02, 2013:
This happened three months ago and my hand has healed. The biggest problem was a daily battle with scar tissue. It kept attaching to the surrounding tissue and tendon, but daily stretching and massage eventually put an end to it. My fear of dogs has not gone away. I've never been in that situation before and it still scares me. I hadn't heard about Spray Shield, so I'll look into it. Thanks so much.
Adrienne Farricelli on September 02, 2013:
Wow, what an ordeal, I am happy you are OK now. At times, emotional scars linger more than physical wounds. I always carry a bottle of Spray Shield with me in case other dogs attack me or the dogs I have for training. So far, didn't have to use it yet, but you never know~!
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on September 02, 2013:
Last week was the first time that I've gotten out and walked my neighborhood. I've never been afraid of dogs, but that changed the day that Shepherd attacked me. Thanks for sharing about cat bites. They can be just as bad and get infected.
moonlake from America on September 02, 2013:
Great hub good information. Cat bites are also very dangerous. My little granddaughter was bite by a cat and I immediately poured hydrogen peroxide on it but she ended up in the hospital because of an infection.
My husband was also bite by a cat, a renter of ours left his cat in our house. My husband caught it and it bite him. It was a bad bite. He had to go to the clinic. The doctor said he was very glad he came in they cleaned it up and a tetanus shot he didn't get infection. Both of the cats were quarantined for 10 days.
I don’t like to walk on roads or sidewalks because of dogs. My daughter and I had a golden retriever run out after us. I yelled at the lady to get her dog and she just smiled and said "Oh he won't bite." His hair stood up on end he was going to bite.
Voted up and shared.
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on July 15, 2013:
That's a great idea. I never thought it necessary, but learned a hard lesson.
Angela Kane from Las Vegas, Nevada on July 15, 2013:
I try to carry a stick with me when I go out walking to hopefully keep any dogs away from me. I will remember those questions above if I am ever bitten by a dog.
Michelle Orelup (author) from Las Vegas, NV on May 16, 2013:
Thanks everyone for your comments. I am hoping that the owners will soon do the right thing.
The Frog Prince from Arlington, TX on May 13, 2013:
Nice write up. I went on a date where I had to quarantine her for 10 days once upon a time. Better safe than sorry... LOL
Susan from India on May 13, 2013:
Very interesting and informative hub. Thank you for sharing.
Diana on May 12, 2013:
Great article unfortunately at the expense of someone I know. Pet owners should be fined heavily for their error. Also, I hope those dogs were written up in the system to prevent future occurrence and given strict and legal consequences....