Should I Call the Police After a Dog Bite?

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Police OfficerYou should call the police after a dog bite if the animal was vicious or acted oddly and might bite another person or animal. If an animal is on a rampage, it is a danger to the public. A dog who is frothing at the mouth, running with an unusual gait without an injury, or behaving oddly in some other manner might have rabies, which also puts the public at risk. In these situations, you should call the police and animal control.

Why Calling the Police or Animal Control Helps to Prevent Rabies and Tetanus

If someone had called the authorities before the animal bit you, you would not be facing the possibility of rabies shots or a tetanus vaccination. Notifying the authorities can help to ensure that the animal does not bite more people and expose them to lethal diseases.

Violation of Leash Laws

Many cities and communities in Washington State have leash laws that prohibit dogs from running loose. Although dog bites can still happen if a dog is on a leash, the authorities want to know about stray animals or dogs whose owners violate the leash laws.

Leash laws are in place to protect the public. When people do not obey leash laws, they expose the public to rabies, tetanus, and other medical conditions as well as dog attacks.


One of the most pressing concerns with a dog bite is infection, particularly rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that an infected animal spreads with its saliva. Most cases of rabies transmission happen through bites. Rabies can be one of the more common dog bite injuries.

How rabies passes from a dog to a human. When an infected dog bites a human, its teeth puncture the tissue of the victim, carrying the saliva-borne virus deep into the flesh of the person.

Treatment for rabies. The only medical option is to get medical care immediately after a dog bite. The medical professionals will clean your wound, repair tissue damage, and evaluate your risk of rabies. If they determine that there is any credible risk of rabies, you will have to undergo rabies injections, which include:

  • An injection of rabies immune globulin, a shot that acts quickly to block the rabies virus from infecting you after a dog bite. The medical professional will inject the rabies immune globulin into more than one location, including near the site of the bite. You must have this shot as soon as possible after the dog bite for the shot to have a chance to prevent rabies.
  • Four rabies vaccinations in your arm. Your doctor will inject the series of four rabies vaccines throughout 14 days.
  • Unless you have had a tetanus shot recently, your doctor will likely give you a tetanus booster shot, since dog bites are deep puncture wounds that can cause tetanus as well as rabies.

Symptoms of rabies. If you wait until you until you exhibit the signs of rabies, it is too late. There is no effective rabies treatment. Some of the symptoms of rabies include:

  • Fever and headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, anxiety, hyperactivity, and agitation
  • Hallucinations

Tetanus Risk from a Dog Bite

Even if you are not at risk of rabies from a dog bite, you might need a tetanus shot. These shots only last for five to ten years. With particularly dirty wounds, medical practitioners usually give a booster shot if the most recent tetanus vaccination was more than five years ago.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection (unlike rabies, which is a virus). A person with tetanus (also called “lockjaw”) faces a dire outcome, as there is no cure for tetanus. The Clostridium tetani bacteria creates a toxin that attacks your nervous system and takes over control of your muscles. If you do not get a tetanus shot in time to prevent the bacterial disease, you can expect to suffer life-threatening symptoms, like:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Muscle spasms in your jaw and neck. Your jaw can clench so hard that it breaks your jaw.
  • Muscle spasms in other areas of your body intense enough to fracture your bones.
  • Physical touch, noise, light, or even the movement of air around you can trigger a painful outburst of body spasms.
  • Your abdominal muscles can become rigid.
  • Fever and sweating.
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Your blood pressure can spike.

If you survive, it can take months to recuperate from tetanus, since the disease damages the endings of your nerves. Your nerves will have to grow new endings. Tetanus can be fatal, usually from respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, or pneumonia.

Getting Legal Help for a Dog Bite

If a dog bit you or a loved one, contact Max Meyers Law so that we can evaluate whether you might be eligible for compensation. You may be able to sue for both your physical and emotional damages. A dog bite lawyer can help you. We will be happy to line up your free consultation – call us at 425-399-7000 today. There is no obligation.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.