The tranquility of your afternoon walk shatters, the air filling with the guttural growl of a pit bull barreling towards you. The serene suburban scene becomes a tableau of terror. What do you do? How do you respond? This survival guide, detailed and precise, will help you know exactly what to do if a pit bull strikes.
Familiarizing Yourself with the Pit Bull Breed
A grasp of the pit bull breed is crucial to comprehend why they might strike and to better anticipate their actions. These canines are strong, energetic, loyal, and sometimes, unfortunately, aggressive. According to the Canine Journal, pit bulls are responsible for the highest number of dog-related injuries in the United States.
However, it’s essential to remember, not all pit bulls are aggressive. Many factors contribute to a dog’s behavior, including upbringing, training, socialization, and genetics. A pit bull raised in a loving, disciplined environment is likely to be a loyal, gentle family pet.
Recognizing Signs of Aggression
Recognizing the signs of aggression can give you precious seconds to react in a dangerous situation. Canine aggression often escalates in stages, from stiff body language to growling, snarling, and finally, physical attack.
A pit bull about to strike may exhibit a rigid body posture. Its ears may be pricked upwards, and its tail may be raised and rigid. The dog might lock its eyes onto you, a behavior known as “hard staring.”
Growling and Snarling
These are loud, clear signals that a dog feels threatened and is ready to defend itself. A pit bull’s growl is low and guttural. If the dog begins to snarl, exposing its teeth, it’s time to take immediate action.
Essential Defensive Actions
When a pit bull strikes, your actions can mean the difference between walking away unharmed or sustaining serious injuries. Here are steps you should take to protect yourself:
Stay Calm: This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s crucial not to panic. Dogs sense fear, and it can urge them further into aggression.
Don’t Run: A pit bull can outrun a human. Running can trigger its chase instinct, possibly escalating the situation.
Make Yourself Big: Stand tall, spread your arms, and puff up your chest. This posture can make you appear bigger and more intimidating.
Avoid Eye Contact: Dogs perceive direct eye contact as a threat or challenge. Look towards the dog, but do not establish direct eye contact.
Use a Barrier: If possible, put an object between you and the dog. Anything from a stick, a purse, a jacket, or a bicycle can work.
Distract and Escape: If the situation allows, toss an object away from you to distract the dog, then retreat slowly.
What to Do During the Attack
If the pit bull strikes despite your best efforts, you’ll need to know how to protect yourself during the attack.
Protect Your Face, Neck, and Chest
These areas are critical, and injuries here can be severe or fatal. If you’re knocked down, curl into a ball and cover your ears and neck with your hands.
Fight Back if Necessary
As a last resort, you may need to fight back. Aim your blows for sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, and throat.
Document the Attack
Once you’re safe, document the attack. Take photos of your injuries, the location, and if possible, the pit bull itself.
After the attack, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Even if your injuries seem minor, a dog bite can transmit diseases, including rabies.
Next, report the incident to local animal control agencies. Provide them with as much information as possible about the dog and the location of the attack.
If the dog’s owner is known, you may be able to hold them liable for your injuries under Texas law. Texas follows a “one bite rule,” where dog owners can be held responsible if they knew or should have known about their dog’s aggressive tendencies.
It’s advisable to consult an attorney experienced in dog bite cases. They can advise you on the potential for a lawsuit and guide you through the legal process.