A Petaluma woman was brutally attacked by a Great Dane as she stopped to pet a leashed dog when she was on a walk, according to an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. According to the news report, the woman, Lisa Sheean, her husband, Mike Sheean and their 9-year-old son were walking along a coastal bluff last Saturday night when a man walking a Great Dane crossed their path.
Sheean told the newspaper his wife actually asked the dog owner if the animal was friendly and that the owner replied that it was. When the woman bent over to pet the Great Dane, the dog, without warning, grabbed her by the head, Sheean said. The dog didn’t even growl before it pounced on her, he said. Lisa Sheean had stitches over one eye and her head and also had puncture wounds in her head, the article stated.
An investigation is ongoing and the dog has been quarantined for 10 days. Investigators are also trying to determine what caused the dog to bite, how severe the injuries are and the history of the dog. The dog could face restrictions even if the wounds are not severe, officials said. According to the article, the Sheeans themselves own two Rottweilers and so considered themselves to be very comfortable with dogs.
Now, it’s very easy to say in hindsight that Lisa Sheean should not have pet that dog, even with the consent of its owner. Of course, we don’t know if the dog had a prior history of attacking people or small dogs or children. Officials are saying never pet a strange dog. You never know what dogs are going to do. Sometimes, owners are in denial but other times, they really don’t know what their dogs are going to do either.
If you have been bitten by a dog, the most important thing to do is seek medical assistance. A dog’s bite is one of the most infection prone wounds you can suffer. Besides a dog’s mouth being full of all types of bacteria, bite wounds are jagged, which leaves a lot of wound exposed. Dog bites are difficult to stitch because they are so jagged.
Naturally identifying the dog and its owner is important. If the dog cannot be identified so that its vaccinations can be verified, a dog bite victim may be subject to treatment for rabies. Identifying the dog’s owner is also important for any type of claim to recover medical expenses and economic losses associated with the injury.
All dog bites should be reported to the local animal control agency. Without reports animal control agencies cannot quarantine a dog to check for diseases. Reports are also necessary so that animal control can keep track of dogs with a history of attacking people.
Our normal procedure when we are representing someone who has been attacked by a dog is to gather evidence as quickly as possible. I like to have my investigator out identifying the dog’s owner, getting statements from the dog’s owner and all witnesses, getting photos of the dog (especially while he is barking viciously at my investigator), and photos of our client’s injuries. It is also very important to document any history the dog has of other attacks on people and animals as well as aggressive or vicious behavior.
If you have questions about a dog attack, give me a call. I’ll go over the incident with you, explain your rights and options and help you decide how best to handle your situation.
Here are a few tips on how to handle dogs from the Humane Society of the United States:
* Never approach a strange dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
* Don’t pet a dog–even your own–without letting him see and sniff you first.
* Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.
* Don’t disturb a dog while she’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.
* Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.