When you spot a dog that makes you feel uneasy, do you ask the owners if it’s safe? If so, odds are that they’ll tell you not to worry, that the dog hasn’t bitten anyone before.
They may be wrong. Animal experts warn that people tend to be biased toward their own pets, and they may not “count” events as bites even though that’s definitely what they are.
For instance, one doctor had a consultation with a dog and its owners. She asked them at the beginning if the dog had a biting history, and they assured her that it had never happened.
The dog later urinated on the floor, and the owners didn’t clean it up, so the doctor got paper towels to do it herself. As she bent down to pick them up, the dog lunged and bit her head.
She did say it wasn’t a major event. She wasn’t hurt or bleeding. But she had to point out to the owners that the event still counted as a bite. She was worried that they had ignored other incidents like that, making them believe they were being honest when they mistakenly said the dog didn’t bite people.
While she was fortunate to get out of it without injuries, this is still an excellent example of the risks you face when you’re around someone else’s pet. Even asking them if it’s dangerous may not get you an honest answer. If the owners are then negligent and allow the dog to attack you or a family member, it’s important to know all of the legal options that you have.
Source: Dr. Sophia Yin, “Was It Just a Little Bite or More? Evaluating Bite Levels in Dogs,” Dr. Sophia Yin, accessed Jan. 10, 2018