Dog attacks most often involve children and elderly people

Children and elderly people are among those most likely to be attacked by dogs. Many dog bite injuries are serious or fatal.

Millions of dogs are owned by animal lovers across the country. The majority of these pets do not cause harm to other people or animals. Unfortunately, the headlines show that all too often, people are injured or killed by dogs. This is a problem that affects residents in Connecticut, as well as every other state.

Every year, states the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. At least half of the victims who need medical attention are children. Senior citizens are the second most common victim of dog bites. In most cases, the dog that attacked was one that was known by the victim, and the bite occurred during ordinary activities, such as playing with the dog or feeding it.

Factors commonly contributing to dog bites

It is not easy to predict when one might be attacked by a pet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is even more difficult to tell if a strange dog will bite, especially if there is no apparent owner nearby. The following scenarios frequently contribute to dog bites, especially among children:

•· Approaching or running away from an unfamiliar dog

•· Petting a strange dog without checking with the owner first

•· Panicking or yelling near a nervous or frightened dog

•· A child playing aggressively with a dog or playing unsupervised

Also, a dog may be more likely to attack if it is disturbed while caring for puppies, eating, sleeping or chewing on a toy. Children should be taught never to bother a dog that is doing any of these things.

Dog bite laws in Connecticut

The owner of a dog that has bitten someone else may be liable for damages, states the Connecticut General Assembly. However, if a person was trespassing on the owner's property without permission, threatening the dog or the owner, teasing or provoking the dog, the owner may not be held at fault.

A frightening incident last March illustrated how quickly a dog attack may occur, as well as the danger posed to senior citizens. WFSB News reported that an 89-year-old woman was attacked by a stray pit bull while receiving a Meals on Wheels delivery in Plainville. The delivery driver was at first nipped by the dog, and then the older woman was attacked when she helped the driver. Authorities said the dog attack was the worst they had ever seen, with the woman's hands mauled to near amputation. The dog was caught and euthanized. Police said the area was known for people illegally dumping dogs they no longer wanted. Authorities were searching for the owner of the dog that attacked.

Dog attacks may cause devastating injuries, as the above example shows. If you or a loved one were attacked by someone else's pet, you may be eligible for compensation. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney with experience in animal attacks as soon as possible after the incident.