General Question

vukota's avatar

Does a dog bite have to be reported?

Asked by vukota (10 points ) May 24th, 2011

I have a friend who was bit accidentally on the hand by her dog. Basically the dog caught his paw on his crate and hurt himself. When she went to help, her dog was in such a panic that he bit her on the hand. He’s a friendly dog and this is the first time he’s done this. Now her hand is hurt and swollen but she’s afraid of going to the doctor since she believes all dog bites have to be reported. Is this true? And does she have reason to worry about something happening to her dog? She lives in New York.

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25 Answers

snowberry's avatar

If she refuses to say which dog bit her, how will anyone know? But then again, if they know it’s an animal bite and she won’t reveal the identity of the animal, they may insist they put her through the rabies treatment. Let’s see what everyone else has to say. (had to edit this 3 times to make it make sense)

Coloma's avatar

Yes, in most caes if the skin has been broken, yes.

Since it is her dog, IF, he is current on vaccines he will simply be quarantined at home for several weeks.

Not that big of a deal. If he isn’t current on rabies, I don’t know how they handle that.
They may insist she get the vaccine (s) and the dog would probably be required to be quaratined at the shelter for 21 days.

JLeslie's avatar

She must get it tended to. It could be infected, can lead to blood poisoning. Does she have red streaks going up her arm at all?

I don’t know the law, but she can say it was a stray maybe?

Buttonstc's avatar

I can only speak from my own experience with my cat. The main thing the Dr. wanted to know was if this was my own pet and not a stray. They asked me how long I’d had her and I told them over 10 yrs.

And that was it. I think that the primary concern is rabies IF IT’S OTHER THAN YOUR OWN PET.

I would strongly urge your friend to go to the Dr. before this gets worse. Both dogs and cats carry some virulent bacteria I their mouths and can quickly develop into a bad infection because it’s usually a puncture wound.

Better the Dr’s office now than the ER and surgery later. I’m not exaggerating.

BTW. I don’t normally get my cats rabies shots on a regular basis unless traveling with them (and the off chance they could escape accidentally). They are normally 100% indoor only.

But the Dr. didn’t even ask about rabies shots.

JLeslie's avatar

Actually, Coloma makes a good point, if there is any chance he is not protected for rabbies she cannot take a risk. If she says it is a stray, they will want to give your friend the shots. She can refuse of course, but she will have to listen to the lecture.

stupidcomedycenter's avatar

Yes it should be reported. Dogs can have bad bacteria in there mouths and that bacteria could get into the hand and cause damage. She should go see a doctor and just explain what happened. I dont think the dog would be put down or anything but your friend should go to the doctor to get that checked out.

BarnacleBill's avatar

They will want to know how to find the dog to test the dog in the event of an infection. The dog will not be put down because it accidentally bit her. The primary concern is tetanus and giving your friend the correct antibiotics if she has an infection.

JLeslie's avatar

The bacteria possibility is more than just the hand, blood poisoning often requires IV antibiotics, it can kill you. My mom wound up two days in the hospital for a cat bite.

dxs's avatar

Yes. I got bit in the head by a dog once when I was on vacation. Major haemorrhage coming from my head that I fainted because it took an hour to get to a hospital. that’s why I am afraid of living in the middle of nowhere I had to get all these shot things (I’m not 100% sure because (a) it was on my head so I couldn’t see it and (b) I was barely conscious).

Buttonstc's avatar

I just sent a PM to Rarebear, a real life MD and hopefully he’ll have more specific info on Drs. reporting requirements.

But I think it’s more important for your friend to get medical attention regardless. The fact that it’s swollen is a def. danger signal.

vukota's avatar

@Buttonstc thanks, appreciate that. The dog does have its rabies and other shots. I haven’t seen her hand myself so I don’t know how bad it is. I have encouraged her to go but as mentioned, she is more worried about anything happening to her dog.

JLeslie's avatar

@vukota Even if it is reported I doubt they will do anything to the dog. I am going to se this to Dr_Dredd she is a doc in NY. You might want to PM her, less chance she will miss the question.

JLeslie's avatar

@vukota If you talk to your friend ask about the streaks, the red streaks. That is a life and death emergency.

crisw's avatar

When my husband got bitten on the hand, quite severely, by a dog we had, the doctor just asked if the dog was up to date on shots (he was.) There was no reporting of the dog. This was in California.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The dog is in no danger of being euthenized or labeled as a dangerous dog in these circumstances, as long as it is up to date on its shots. But this is a potentially life threatening injury, and should be treated as quickly as possible.

Blueroses's avatar

Dog bite regulations are determined by local authority, usually on a County level. Most only require proof of vaccinations and/or quarantine if the bite occurs off the owner’s property and the bitten person is not the owner. Your friend can call the local animal shelter to get information for her particular location to set her mind at ease without giving them her information, but she needs to have it seen to if it’s swollen before it gets worse.

MissAusten's avatar

When my cousin’s dog bit her on the face (it was a similar situation where the recently adopted dog was scared and caught by surprise), she went to the ER as she needed stitches. If I remember correctly, the doctor said he had to report the bite but because it was her own dog nothing would come of it. And, nothing did. The dog hasn’t had any further problems, and this was several years ago.

I also have a relative who used to have a dog that did have a history of biting people. He’d just suddenly snap without warning or reason. He’d been with the same family since he was a puppy and was never mistreated. I think he bit four people in all, but I don’t know how many of those bites were officially reported. The last time he bit someone it was a bad bite and was reported (he bit his owner). Because of his history he was put under quarantine, meaning he couldn’t leave his own house. Unfortunately, his aggressive behavior continued and he was eventually put down. Anyway, my point is that the dog wasn’t put to sleep after the first or even second incident.

Your friend should go to the doctor as soon as possible. I really don’t think anything will happen to the dog, but if she’s that worried she can look into local laws just to reassure herself.

Rarebear's avatar

Take care of the hand. The person who has been bitten needs to get a tetanus shot and get it tended to if it’s infected. I’ve seen untreated hand infections end up as arm amputations.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Agree with @Rarebear. Dogs’ mouths really are quite dirty, although humans’ mouths are worse. I’d rather be bitten by a dog than a human.

As for reporting, I’ve never reported a dog bite to the state. If the person knows the dog, I ask about vaccination history. If not, I suggest that the person call the local animal control for more information and advice.

Hope your friend gets better soon, and the puppy, too!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dr_Dredd As someone in the medical field in New York, is the response of not reporting dog bites based upon personal choice, or is it not required?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer As far as I know, there is no law mandating bite reports.

Rarebear's avatar

I don’t know of any law either.

iamthemob's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer – I would wager that if there were any regulation, it would have to be a clear violation of a duty to protect the health of the community.

One of the biggest problems with patients for doctors, and clients for lawyers, is that they lie all the time – even without knowing it by omitting information they don’t think is important to the situation. So whatever information they get about the source of the bite has to come to them second hand in nearly every situation. Mandating reporting of dog bites would only be for the purpose of determining the identity of the dog, and might lead to privacy concerns regarding health information. It could place doctors in an untenable position of potentially revealing private patient information, or a burden on them to research the accuracy of information provided, or a whole bunch of unreliable unresearched information.

Plus, it’s likely that it would actually encourage patients lying about the bite source, if it were their dog.

jessylee's avatar

She does need to get it cleaned at. Dog and cat bits can get very infected and cause a lot of problems. If she tells the doc it was a dog it shouldn’t matter. I work for a kennel and people get bit accidentally all the time doing nails, cleaning ears, and trying to help hurt dogs. We all go to the hospital if it happens but none of us have ever done any reports, unless we want to or feel it is necessary. It should be ok but you need to have that cleaned immediately!

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