Only in the movies can a talented actor like Peter Sellers make a dog bite funny, such as in the following classic scene from The Pink Panther Strikes Again:

But in real life, we all know that a dog bite is far from a laughing matter, particularly when your dog bites a loved one or a stranger, unprovoked.  The recent heart-breaking local story underscores how an untrained / unrestrained dog can cause not only serious injuries, but legal and financial issues for the dog owner as well.  The owner of the pit bulls involved in the Schenectady attack has been cited for a dangerous dog violation under a the city ordinance. If found guilty of that violation, the dog owner could be jailed or fined, or both.

While I’m always available to help individuals who have been injured by a dog bite pursue a legal claim for the injuries suffered, these type of attacks can be prevented.

As outlined on the The Humane Society of the United States website, there is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bite someone. But you can significantly reduce the risk by following their good advice:

  • Spay or neuter your dog. This important and routine procedure will reduce your dog’s desire to roam and fight with other dogs, making safe confinement an easier task. Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.
  • Socialize your dog. Introduce your dog to many different types of people and situations so that he or she is not nervous or frightened under normal social circumstances.
  • Train your dog. Accompanying your dog to a training class is an excellent way to socialize him and to learn proper training techniques. Training your dog is a family matter. Every member of your household should learn the training techniques and participate in your dog’s education.

Teach your dog well

Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don’t teach your dog to chase after or attack others, even in fun. Your dog can’t always understand the difference between play and real-life situations. Set appropriate limits for your dog’s behavior. Don’t wait for an accident. The first time the dog exhibits dangerous behavior toward any person, seek professional help from your veterinarian, an animal behaviorist, or a qualified dog trainer.

Your community animal care and control agency or humane society may also offer helpful services. Dangerous behavior toward other animals may eventually lead to dangerous behavior toward people, and is also a reason to seek professional help.

Be a responsible dog owner

License your dog as required by law, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. For everyone’s safety, don’t allow your dog to roam alone. Make your dog a member of your family: Dogs who spend a great deal of time alone in the backyard or tied on a chain often become dangerous. Dogs who are well-socialized and supervised are much less likely to bite.

Err on the side of caution

If you don’t know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cautious. If your dog may panic in crowds, leave him at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery or service personnel, keep him in another room. Work with professionals to help your dog become accustomed to these and other situations. Until you are confident with your dog’s behavior, however, avoid stressful settings.

Your decision to take these prevention measures may well avoid the injury and heartbreak that a dog bite / attack can inflict.  And that responsibility is no laughing matter.