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EmptyNest's avatar

I need some opinions on this situation...

Asked by EmptyNest (2033points) November 13th, 2011

I am dog sitting for a neighbor who went on an overnight vacation to vail, invited by some friends. These are big dogs. David, the owner rescued both of them. He paid for an expensive surgery to fix the female’s leg. The male, “Rupert” had been very abused by the previous owner and doesn’t like people. It took him several times seeing me and being in my house for him to trust me. He used to bark at me. Last night I was walking the dogs a guy was coming toward us and Rupert, the male was barking like crazy. The guy kept coming. I had both big dogs AND my little Katie (who was not on a leash) They were pulling me and making me run. I was pulling back because I didn’t want to run on my damn swollen twisted ankle. As he got close enough for me to hear him, he said, “whoa”. Just after he passed us, he turned around and said, “that one bit me.” No alarm in his voice at all. I turned and looked at him but he kept going and turned into his apartment. I continued walking them. A minute later he came back out, walking toward me and said that he saw his leg was bleeding and asked for my name and apartment number. I was so stunned—I just said, these aren’t my dogs. I’m dog sitting. He said that he hoped the owner had gotten them their rabies shots and I said, I’m sure he did…he put himself in debt over the female’s leg surgery. Now he thinks he needs a tetanus shot—that doesn’t make sense. That’s just for metal, isn’t it? He never showed me a bite mark. I feel bad about it. I talked to David, the owner, this morning and I didn’t tell him. I’ll tell him this evening when I come home. I never even showed concern for the man, I was so stunned. Now I feel like a heartless idiot.

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

If the man was bitten, you need to see the bite.

And the tetanus shot is appropriate for an animal bite.

marinelife's avatar

In some states, dog bites must be reported by doctors treating them.

Your friend (the owner) should:
1. make sure the man was actually bitten.
2. pay for his medical bill to see a doctor.

You should:
1. tell the owner as soon as possible.
2 call the man now (the next day) and ask how he is doing. He should have washed the wound an be applying antibiotic ointment twice a day.

A tetanus shot (if the man has not had one in the last five years) could well be prescribed.

EmptyNest's avatar

@marinelife, thanks so much for the thoughtful answer. I never got the man’s number. I know which building he lives in but not the apartment (twelve to a building). I think he may have been drunk, which would explain his nonchalant attitude about having been bitten. I didn’t handle the situation well, I’m embarrassed to say. I’d never experienced anything like this. I didn’t want to tell David because he’d just stress about it all day. I’m thinking if I see the man again, I’ll apologize, ask him how he is, ask to see the wound and take it from there. David is already stressed out. He’s an out-of-work I.T. man. Very intelligent, but jobs are so hard to come by. I am also out of work. I haven’t heard anything from the office yet today. If I tell David about it, he’ll only stress all day over it and still won’t be able to come home sooner than this evening, anyway.

john65pennington's avatar

You should have told the dogs owner, the minute you saw him. If one of the dogs indeed did bite this man, you and David are liable for this mans medical bills.

Locate the bite victim and demand to see his injuries. Also, take photos of his injuries.

There are procedures for both involved parties to take and so far, neither have followed these procedures.

This man may call Animal Control. Someone may be cited and the involved animal quarantined for 10 days.

I would make sure this man is telling the truth about the dog bite and demand to see his injuries for yourself.

Blueroses's avatar

First, you need copies of the proof of rabies vaccination for all 3 dogs. The administering vet will give that to you if you can’t find it in your records. Then, I would anonymously call animal control and find out what the protocol is for a reported bite. They may require house quarantine until the man’s injuries are verified. Procedures vary county to county so do everything you can to cover your bases.

Coloma's avatar

Tetanus shots are for any puncture wound or animal bite as such. If he has not had a booster in the past 10 years he should get one.

In California all animal bites must be reported if one visits a doctor for such.

You are not liable but yes, you should have the owner provide the necessary paperwork and the bitten person should get a tetanus booster.

Edit: Yes…check with the local Animal control as quarantine of the animal is often required even if vaccinated.

CWOTUS's avatar

First of all, don’t panic. (Not that you are.)

Yes, you need to follow up with the man and with the dogs’ owner. Paying for a tetanus shot won’t break anyone’s bank. This event can be closed without lawyers and legal concerns if the ‘victim’ doesn’t have an intent to prosecute the owner (or you) for negligence or harboring a vicious animal. Let’s hope that’s the case.

However, looking farther down the road, the dog owner needs to be more careful about training the dog and/or muzzling it if it can’t be controlled. And he, knowing the strength of the dogs (plural) should not have let you walk the dogs on a bad ankle. Maybe he shouldn’t have entrusted you to walk the dogs at all if you can’t control them. (Not knocking you; he should have known better.)

It could be a child next time, or someone who’s more excitable or litigious. This should be a wake-up call to the owner.

JLeslie's avatar

I would have told the owner right away, but since you will see him tonight that seems fine at this point. The doctor can probably see by the bite mark if it matches the dogs teeth if you think he is lying. If the man who was bitten plans on going to the doctor, I would if I thought I needed a tetanus shot (if his last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago the doctor will probably recommend it) then he should give you the doctor information. The owner should have the dogs vaccination records for the rabbies concern, which is a serious concern of course.

I know people hate me for this, but this is exactly why I am afraid of dogs.

Brian1946's avatar

@JLeslie I love most dogs but I understand and respect your apprehension, because I’ve met some nasty ones myself.

JLeslie's avatar

@Brian1946 I know too many people who have been bitten by neighborhood dogs. On halloween a girl was attacked by a dog one town away while she was trick or treating. I know the mom of the girl who was attacked by the dog. From what I understand the dog ran right out past his owner when he opened the door to give out candy.

EmptyNest's avatar

Wow, I’m so glad my little cockapoo is so sweet. I would not own a vicious dog. The owner is a really great guy who only wanted to rescue abused animals. I would have told him right away had he not gone on this trip to help his stress level. I KNOW he would have been stressed out all day today. He’ll be home in about six hours now. I have heard nothing from the man who said he was bitten, nor the office of the complex where I live, nor animal control, nor the police. I’ve walked the dogs twice today but took them one at a time which was easier. I cannot wait to get them out of here! Beautiful dogs, but I don’t need this. Thanks so much to all of you @JLeslie @Brian1946 @CWOTUS @Coloma @Blueroses @john65pennington @marinelife and @gailcalled

JLeslie's avatar

@EmptyNest I hope I did not sound critical of you. Sounds like you want to do what is right. I am sure it is stressful for you just having to deal with the situation. I am not being critical of the owner either, sounds like his heart is in the right pace, and he does not purposely want an aggressive dog. Evenrything should be fine. I am sure the dog must have had its shots from how you described the owner, and that would be the biggest concern.

EmptyNest's avatar

Not at all @JLeslie! Thanks! ;-)

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