Wyoming Dog Bites
Dog bites are so common that they are often trivialized. However, trivializing dog bites may be a huge mistake. Dogs carry diseases to which humans are not immune, such as rabies and parvo. Their mouths are also dirty, as dogs often dig into the trash, eat dead rodents, or dig into other bacteria-infested items. These factors alone can lead to disease or infection if the wound is not properly cleaned and maintained. Depending on how severe a bite is and what types of bacteria a dog was carrying at the time of the attack, a person may develop adverse complications of a dog bite that could keep him or her from work, lead to extensive medical costs, or even result in death. For this reason, if you or a loved one was attacked or bitten by a dog, you should contact a dog bite lawyer right away to discuss your rights.
Complications of Dog Bites
Dogs bite approximately 4.7 million Americans each year, the vast majority of which are between the ages of five and nine. The primary complication of dog bites is an infection, which occurs in approximately 20 percent of dog bite cases. Nearly one in five people bitten by dogs require medical attention. Infections range in severity, with some being curable and some being potentially fatal. Infections that often arise in dog bite cases include the following:
- Rabies: Though rare, rabies is a virus about which people should be greatly concerned. Rabies is transmitted via the saliva of an infected dog or another animal. When a human contracts the virus, it spreads to the brain. Once a person starts exhibiting symptoms of rabies, the outlook is likely death.
- Tetanus: Tetanus is a toxin caused by bacteria that leads to paralysis. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for tetanus. Unfortunately, most adults are not up to date on this particular shot. When a dog bite wound is deep, tetanus is a very real health concern.
- MRSA: This type of bacteria is extremely deadly and, unfortunately, resistant to most antibiotics.
- Capnocytophaga spp.: This type of bacteria resides within a dog’s mouth and spreads via a bite. Though not particularly worrisome in most people, it can be extremely hazardous for those with weakened immune systems.
- Pasteurella: This type of bacteria often breeds in infected dog bite wounds. Though not lethal, it can be painful and cause swelling and redness at the site of infection. If not treated, it can lead to a staph infection.
Because you never know what types of diseases a dog carries, or if you are not vaccinated against certain viruses, it is imperative that you seek medical attention right away if you do get bitten by a dog. Doing so could mean the difference between life and death.
Dog Bite Law in Wyoming
Unlike many other states, Wyoming does not have a statute that explicitly states whether a dog owner may be held liable for his or her dog’s actions. It also does not have any laws in place that say whether liability may be assumed after one bite or two. Because of that, the courts operate under a one-bite assumption. This means that a dog does not need a history of aggression or biting for the owner to be held liable for injuries caused by the canine.
That said, if you were bitten by a dog in Wyoming, and if that dog had no prior history of aggressive behavior, you may file a personal injury lawsuit for damages the dog caused you. This is thanks to the theory of negligence. Negligence refers to the act of unreasonable care or the absence of the kind of care that any other reasonably cautious person would have exercised in similar circumstances. For instance, if you were bitten in public because a large dog was not on a leash, you may be able to argue that any other reasonably prudent person would have had the dog on a leash. If you can prove that a dog owner’s conduct does not measure up to what an ordinarily careful person would have done, then the courts may side with you and declare the owner negligent.
The violation of animal control laws is also considered negligence, or rather, negligence per se. Wyoming recognizes negligence per se as a cause of action in dog bite cases.
Of course, proving negligence is easier said than done. Again, though Wyoming does not have any dog bite statutes, the courts may want to know if you provoked the attack in any way. Were you on private property when you should not have been? Were there signs warning of a large dog and to stay away? Did you abuse the dog in any way? If the dog’s owner can show that you provoked the attack or proceeded to approach the dog regardless of warning signs, the court may side with the dog and its owner. Proving negligence is tricky for most everyone outside of a professional dog bite lawyer.
When a Dog Bites
When a dog does bite a person or another animal in Wyoming, the county sheriff or an animal control officer is likely to collect the dog and bring it to a place where it can be safely quarantined for a minimum of 15 days. Sometimes, the quarantine may last longer if the Wyoming state health officer determines that the dog has a disease that may be transmitted to humans.
It is not uncommon for the state to allow home quarantine. However, to qualify for home quarantine, the dog’s owner must be able to present a certificate that shows that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If a dog owner cannot present said certificate, the county will be forced to impound the dog, the cost of which must be paid by the owner. If the owner cannot pay the fee, the dog will be euthanized. Regardless of whether a person can pay the quarantine fee or quarantine the dog at his or her house, the county will charge him or her a fee of no more than $200.
For this entire process to take place, the county must have proof of the bite. It must also have proof that the incident took place on a property on which the victim was legally entitled to be.
Caring for Dog Bite Wounds
If you were bitten or attacked by a dog, the first thing you should do, even before contacting a dog bite lawyer, is care for your wounds. In addition to washing your wounds thoroughly with soap and warm water, the CDC recommends taking the following measures immediately after sustaining injuries:
- For minor wounds:
- Apply an antibiotic ointment.
- Wrap the wound with a clean bandage or cloth.
- Visit your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and to ensure that your wound is not infected. It would also not hurt to recommend tests for common dog diseases.
- Pay attention for fever, rash, nausea, or other signs of complication.
- For deep wounds:
- Apply pressure to the wound with a dry, clean cloth to stanch the bleeding.
- If you begin to feel faint, weak, or sick in any way, and if you cannot stop the bleeding, call 911 or have someone bring you to your local emergency department. You are likely experiencing a medical emergency.
- Do not let your ER department allow you to wait. Demand to be seen right away.
- See a healthcare provider:
- If you experience uncontrolled bleeding, extreme pain, loss of function, dizziness, muscle aches or spasms, bone exposure, or any other symptoms of a serious wound, go to the ER.
- If your wound becomes painful, red, or swollen, or if you develop fever or nausea, visit your healthcare provider. You should definitely do this if you do not know if the dog has been exposed to or vaccinated against rabies.
- If the wound is deep, and if it has been five or more years since you received your last tetanus shot, visit your healthcare provider.
The CDC also recommends reporting the bite. Even if you know the dog, and even if it is not typically aggressive, you can do the community a favor by informing animal control of the incident. The authorities will check to make sure the dog is vaccinated against rabies and that it does not have any other dangerous diseases, such as distemper or parvo. If you know where the dog lives, visit the owner and ask about the dog’s vaccination history. If anything, doing so can rule out rabies and other viruses. If you have been bitten by another person’s dog, you will need an experienced dog bite lawyer.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer With the Wyoming Advocates!
The goal of this post is not to scare victims of dog bites but to inform them. Dog bites are much more serious than most people give them credit for and can result in painful and even life-threatening infections. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite, and if you have experienced adverse complications to your health, your finances, or both because of the wound, contact a dog bite lawyer in Wyoming. The Wyoming Advocates are prepared to help you build your case and recover compensation for your injuries and losses. You can either contact a dog bite lawyer with our law firm by calling (307) 466-0003 or by immediately chatting online right now. Remember that with a Wyoming Advocate on your team, your recovery will always be our first priority. You deserve an Advocate!