My dog Sadie and I now have yet one more thing in common. We’ve both been bitten by the same dog. Yep, I thought I knew pretty everything about dogs, but last night when I was bitten by a neighbor dog I realized I had no idea what to do. In everything medical, I consult with my sister Amy, a Nurse Practitioner, but while waiting for her to return my call; I consulted my other source for all things dog…Cesar Milan. Do you know what to do if you get bitten dog?
I was delivering treats to a neighbor dog, Maxi. Maxi came to live with my neighbors after her previous owner became ill and no longer could care for her. Her new home with my neighbors had two active teenagers and their parents. Dogs grieve when they lose the person they’ve bonded with, and not everyone recognizes this and knows how to comfort and transition them. Maxi seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
With both parents working and the kids going to school, she’s had to spend a lot more time alone than she was used to. I think too, that a dog develops an even deeper bond with a person who really needs them. Suddenly in a busy family with lots of activity, to me she seemed lost.
Maxi’s new family has been friends of mine for years, even before I moved right behind them in our subdivision. We met her soon after she came to them, and would often stop and visit with her if she was out. She has always been guarded; sweet one moment, fearful and somewhat aggressive the next. It was on a walk with her and her new Mom, that she decided to our total surprise to attack Sadie.
Both of us did the wrong thing and jumped in the middle of the altercation. Sadie was scared and shaken and scared, but not harmed. Maxi’s new Mom was crying and confused as well as somewhat angry at Maxi. I wanted to get Sadie home and examine her and reassure her, but I took the time to tell Maxi’s Mom that Maxi needed more socialization. That dogs are pack animals and too much time alone, no yard to run in, and a completely new atmosphere would make her cranky. I encouraged her to let her come to Sadie’s big fenced yard and run around. When she said she wanted to take her to the shelter, I pleaded with her not to. Maxi needed a chance not another drastic upheaval in her life.
We saw Maxi outside on Sunday on a leash with her new Dad just as some deer ran through the woods. I promised to bring her some treats and last night that’s why I was at their house. On the way up there, I saw the newest dog in our subdivision…little Maddie a beagle puppy. I had to stop and see her and give her some treats. Her puppy sweetness was so great to feel and she licked me and jumped up and down. Sadie was jealous, but I got back in my Jeep and moved on to deliver Maxi’s treats.
I rang the doorbell and heard her bark. I was going to just leave them in the door, but I heard someone coming, and waited. Maxi ran out the door ahead of her Dad and growled. I gave the treats to her Dad and she continued growling and before I could do anything….lunged at me and clamped down on my arm.
I was shocked as I felt her teeth squeezing hard over my jacket sleeve. I feebly said, “Hey, she bit me!” Maxi, her Dad and the treats quickly disappeared into the house. We went home. When I took my jacket off, I was surprised to see the skin on my arm was broken and there were bruises already from the bite. Thus the consultation call to my sister who insisted I go to Urgent Care. Knowing me as she does, my sister said, “Gee of all the people for that dog to bite it had to be you.” I didn’t know if she was being kind referring to my great love and advocacy for dogs, or my reputation as a lawyer unafraid to take anyone to court. Hey…did this dog know WHO she had bitten!
That’s how I ended up walking up to the desk at Med Express and saying, “I got bitten by a dog.” It was pretty routine after that. I got a tetanus shot, antibiotics to prevent infection, some cream to put on the bite, and I was good to go. I had to fill out a form titled ANIMAL ENCOUNTER about the incident. Maxi’s Dad had immediately sent me a copy via e-mail of her rabies shot record so I was able to tell the doctor that when she asked me. I was worried the Animal Control Office would go take Maxi for that dreaded 10-day quarantine. Turns out that dogs are allowed to be quarantined at home if that’s necessary. For my bite it won’t be and I don’t have to lose any sleep for the next 10 days worrying about waking up foaming at the mouth.
I don’t know why Maxi bit me, but I’m sure she has her reasons. Maybe she wanted beef treats instead of chicken. Maybe I interrupted her Animal Planet show when I rang the doorbell. Maybe she is just lonely, confused, sad, and angry. I’m not mad at her.
I know for most people having your dog bite a lawyer is a nightmare. Maxi’s parents don’t have to worry. I want to help them make her a part of their family. I want her to get some training and behavior modification that will soothe her anxiety and take away the aggression. It’s possible.
Here’s a combination of what Cesar Milan and the health care professionals recommend if you get bitten by a dog and some interesting facts about dog bites I didn’t know.
- Clean the wound as soon as possible with antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide.
- Depending on the severity of the bite, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- If possible, get the name and telephone number of the owner and ask for verification of rabies vaccination.
- Don’t panic…over 880,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites every year.
- Dogs bite men more than they bite women. Women get bitten by cats more than men do.
- Most of the damage from a dog bite is to nerves and tendons below the skin. That’s why even if the bite appears mild, you should seek medical attention.
- Infection is a major concern with a dog bite because the bite inoculates bacteria deep into the tissue.
- If it’s a stray dog or an unvaccinated dog; rabies is always a possibility.
- You’ll have to fill out a form about the dog, how the bite occurred and provide information about the owner if you know it.
I think my neighbors and I will be just fine over this incident and do our best to make things better for Maxi too. She needs to feel love and learn how to let go of the fear that must be bothering her. She’s lucky that the lawyer she bit loves dogs.
Have you evern been bitten by a dog? Has your dog bitten someone? Share your experiences with us.