“He was just playing.”
“It’s not that big of a deal, just wash it and put a Band-Aid on it.”
“Oh, he never bites. I don’t know why he would now.”
These are all common responses of animal owners whenever their pet lashes out and bites another person. Many times the owner will try to downplay the incident in order to avoid any inconvenience that may come out of it. However, an animal bite should be taken seriously.
Potential Severity of an Animal Bite
In the state of Indiana, it is required that all animal bites be investigated. This is because, many times, an animal bite can be more serious than it may appear. Dog and cat bites have been identified as the sole cause of more than 30 types of bacteria and at least one identified virus. If you are bitten by one of these animals, especially if this bite punctures the skin, you are at risk of being exposed to one of these infections.
In addition to these bacteria and viruses, another significant concern of animal bites is the possibility that the animal is rabid. Rabies is a viral disease often transmitted through the saliva of animals. It attacks the central nervous system and will lead to illness of the brain and ultimately death if left untreated. If you are bitten by an animal, especially an animal that is not cared for with regular vet visits, the risk of developing rabies is one that should not be taken lightly.
How to Prevent Animal Bites
Though an animal bite is often an unexpected event, there are multiple precautions you should take in order to lessen the possibility of falling victim to the animal.
- Avoid interaction with unfamiliar pets.
- Avoid any rough treatment or threatening behavior toward any animal, even in play.
- Call an animal rescue team if an unfamiliar dog or cat in roaming your neighborhood, and do not attempt to handle the animal yourself.
- Be sure that your kids are educated about the potential dangers of approaching an unfamiliar animal.
Steps to Take If You Are Bitten
Before you do anything, it is important that you take measures to prevent any infection. The best way to do this is to wash out the wound. It is recommended that you wash the wound vigorously with soap and water for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Next, it is important that you seek medical treatment for the bite. If you have previously received immunizations but five years have lapsed since your last shots, it is important that you return to your doctor and receive an additional tetanus booster. If you have not previously received immunizations, then you should begin a primary tetanus series of shots.
Finally, Indiana requires that a thorough investigation be completed for this type of injury. Be sure to download and complete the official Indiana Animal Bite Report form. In order to fill this out, be sure to gather all information from the doctor and the owner. This will include any information about the victim, the pet, the vaccination record of the pet, information on the pet’s owner (if any), the circumstance of the bite, and whether or not the pet was provoked.