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Causes of dog and animal bites

Posted by attorney Mitchell Sexner

Millions of people own dogs and cats. But Americans own countless others types of animals as well, many of which were never considered as suitable pets in years past. Some of these animals are kept as house pets while others are kept as outdoor pets. Examples of such pets include parrots, falcons, hawks, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, squirrels, chinchillas, hedgehogs, rats, ferrets, lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, tarantulas, scorpions, pot-bellied pigs, monkeys and miniature horses. The list goes on and on. Americans keep as pets virtually anything that moves. Many of these animals seem perfectly suited to living as a house pet, while others are not. But even those pets that are generally docile and calm around guests may bite on any given day without warning.

Injuries from an animal bite may occur due to extreme damage to the tissue or flesh as a result of deep or extensive tearing. Numerous stitches may be required along with plastic surgery to repair or minimize the damage. Other injuries from a dog or other animal bite may be the result of the introduction of bacteria beneath the victim’s skin that was contained in the animal’s saliva. Such animal bacteria can cause infection and shows up in the vast majority of such bites. Infectious diseases that may result include tetanus, rabies and cat-scratch disease. A recent study found that microbes called anaerobic organisms often thrive after such a bite and can lead to complications such as meningitis, septic arthritis, tenosynovitis or lymphatic system infections.

An animal may bite when completely unprovoked as some animals are naturally aggressive, bred to be aggressive or trained by their owners to behave in such a way. Other times, injuries are inflicted when a dog or cat for instance is teased, interrupted during a meal, or subjected to overly rough play. It may be a warning, an assertion of dominance, or a purposeful attack to cause harm. But in any event, owners must maintain responsibility for the pets they keep. Whether at a park or within their homes, when an injury or death occurs as a result of an animal bite, the owner should be held liable if the attack could have been avoided or if the owner was negligent in some way.

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If you or a family member has suffered a accident or injury, we urge you to contact an experienced attorney. Such an attorney will carefully evaluate your case and explain the legal options available to you at no charge.

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