Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dog bite day

I was mountain bike riding on a fire road just past the power substation when a dog bit me at 1:30 PM.

I was climbing up and saw a woman (Margo, last name withheld) who was walking five dogs - 3 small dogs, a medium sized one, and a large dog. I think she had the small dogs on leashes, the medium dog stayed back with her, but the large dog walked ahead of them. She was trying to call the large one back. As it was a fairly steep climb, I was biking slow, and the large dog (Red) walked past me. It seemed non-agressive at the time, it was not growling, and did not pay much attention to me.

As Red dog got a couple feet past me, he (she?) suddenly turned around and bit me on my left calf. This stunned me, it was a completely unprovoked attack from a dog which appeared friendly.

Fortunately, I was wearing tights, which may have buffered some of the germs from the dog and maybe lessened the potential for bigger injury. There were several teeth marks on me, the largest was evaluated by the doctor as being a puncture wound 2 cm (almost an inch) in length. This left a very visible chunk missing from my leg. Margo and I did a quick inspection of my leg, realized it was not too bad, so all we did for first aid was to wash it with some of my water and just let it continue to bleed.

I called my friend / neighbor Erik for a ride to the hospital, but he was out in the woods at the time so unable to give me a ride. Margo said she could give me a ride, which I reluctantly accepted, because she was on foot and probably a 2 mile hike back to her car. As I just had to ride my bike downhill, I went ahead and waited over a half hour for her. During that time I gave the leg a couple more washes with the water from my camelback.

While waiting, I saw a car in the parking lot with a sticker saying "woof", so I figured that must be her car, so I took a photo of her license plate. I was fairly certain she was playing honest, because she had some kind of ID on her vest which I read the name Margo on it, so I believe I have the true name and cell phone number which she gave me. Also, she sounded pretty level headed and acting decently, apologetic for the incident, so I had no need to doubt her sincerity.

Margo drove me and my bike to my house, just a mile up the road, and her dogs were well behaved in the back with my bike. I then gave her my phone number, and she promised to pay for my medical bills. After she departed, I washed my leg several times with soap and water, and then drove myself to the Snoquamie hospital ER.

At the ER, they examined the wound and advised me that they will not be giving me Rabies shots, but this is on condition that the dog be observed for 7-10 days. If the dog gets sick, it could impact my treatment. I was discharged from the hospital around 3:30 PM.

Next stop, Snoqualmie PD at 4PM. The officer on duty took down the license and contact info for Margo for the record only, but said he likely will not follow up as this fell in King County (unincorporated?) jurisdiction, not Snoqualmie. He gave me the contact for animal control, and asked that I contact them on Monday morning. Things to discuss is how to monitor the dog for 10 days as my injury recovers. The officer stressed that although the dog handler may have been nice, that they are responsible for the actions of their animals, and therefore they consider the dog attack as an assault from the owner. Hmm, very sobering way to look at it. The dog handler is definitely someone I consider to be a very nice person of good intent.

Personally, I'd like this incident to just go away, but the police officer advised me it is not that simple. I need to pay the deductible from the ER visit that insurance doesn't pay. Also, he said it is common for insurance to deny my claim, as they expect the responsible party (Margo the dog handler or Red's owner) to pay for it. I hope this is not curtains for Red, that would be sad, but the reality is that a dog which bites people without being provoked is likely to attack others. I'll leave the judgement up to animal control.

Everybody lost something today. Me, Margo, Red, real dog owner. Wish Red would have not bitten me.

1 comment:

Mark said...

It's really not that simple, especially if you're spending a lot of money just getting yourself treated, not to mention the risk of getting rabies just in case the dog came from an irresponsible owner.

But if you're living in Los Angeles, you may want to check out Madison Law Group. They can offer you free consultation dog bites injury, especially if you will be finding it hard to collect something from the insurance company.