According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over 4.5 million people nationwide suffer dog bites each year, including many in West Virginia. Of those victims, at least 800,000 people need medical care. Further statistics indicate that about 50% of those cases involved children.
A misconception exists that only certain canine breeds bite people. Instead, the dog’s history and behavior often determine whether they will attack. The truth is that any dog will attack people under specific circumstances.
Why do dogs bite?
Understanding what pushes a dog to bite could prevent being a victim. It is always a good idea for parents to teach children that dog bites typically happen in reaction to the following situations:
- Dogs are protective of their territory and may attack anyone who threatens it.
- Dogs will also attack anyone if they think their food or toys are at risk.
- Dogs who are startled or scared might attack the source of their fear.
- Dogs with puppies become even more protective and will attack anyone threatening their safety.
- Ill or injured dogs might attack to show they do not want to be disturbed.
While these are all situations in which dogs react, they might bite when they become over-excited. It could be in play, and while the game might start with playful nips, it could turn dangerous quickly.
Legal options for dog bite victims
Dog bite victims could hold the owner of the dog accountable for medical expenses and other damages. This is typically done by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. However, under the dog bite laws in West Virginia, a dog owner can only be held liable for any inflicted damages if the dog attacked someone while it was running at large.