• Kenneth Powell

Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Missouri?

The old saying goes that a dog is a man’s best friend. Sadly, mankind’s four-legged companions aren’t always friendly or lovable. In the US, a staggering 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year. Children aged 5 and younger make up 68% of that number.

While not all bites are life-threatening, they still require immediate medical attention. What’s more, in many cases, they may necessitate legal action as well.

However, what if the dog wasn’t a stray or a stranger’s pet? What if the animal was the victim’s own beloved companion? Though 15% of dogs end up biting their owners, many owners hesitate to report bites to the authorities for fear of losing their dog. Some also refuse medical attention because they believe doctors have to report the dog bite to authorities.

While this is the case in many states, it doesn’t hold true in every situation. To properly address their injury, dog bite victims need to know two key pieces of information — what to do right after the injury and if doctors have to report dog bites in Missouri.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

What to Do After a Dog Bite

Dogs are often thought of as beloved members of a family. Therefore, many people don’t expect a pet dog to attack them. Though such situations are upsetting, it's important to take action and attend to the injury.

Health experts recommend washing the wound out immediately and seeking medical attention. Depending on how severe the bite was, the victim may need stitching and intravenous antibiotics to recover fully. Even if the dog was fully vaccinated, a doctor might also order a rabies vaccine to ensure the victim doesn’t develop a deadly viral infection.

Apart from the necessary medical treatment, a victim should also document the injury. In some US states, such as Missouri, owners have a legal responsibility to prevent their pets from harming others or their property. If they fail to do so, the courts can charge them with a felony. Moreover, they’ll have to reimburse the victim for their medical expenses and any pain and suffering the attack may have caused. (Find out how much is a dog at large ticket in Missouri.)

However, for the victim to receive the necessary compensation, they must prove the animal attacked them. Therefore, they should first ask for the owner’s name and personal information.

Afterward, they should take pictures of the injury and collect witness testimony if anyone was present for the attack. This will ensure the victim can build a strong case against the owner and negotiate a better insurance settlement.

Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Missouri?

The aftermath of a dog bite is relatively straightforward when dealing with a stranger’s pet or a stray dog. However, what if the victim’s own beloved pet was the attacker?

Missouri is a strict liability state, meaning that if a dog bites someone, the owner is legally liable for the attack. What’s more, doctors in Missouri have a legal responsibility to file a report on the bite to the health department and animal control. This usually results in the health department quarantining the dog and putting it down, so it doesn’t attack anyone else.

Such a scenario can be upsetting, especially if the dog was in the family for years. Consequently, many owners will try to cover up the incident and refuse to seek medical treatment for it. This is ill-advised for several reasons.

1. The Risk of Developing Infections

As mentioned, dog bites can transmit many dangerous diseases. Even if the animal is completely healthy, their saliva contains bacteria that are very dangerous to the human body. Therefore, owners who don’t seek emergency treatment risk developing a whole host of illnesses such as:

● Meningitis

● Cellulitis

● Tetanus

● Endocarditis

● Rabies (Learn if and why rabies vaccine is required by law in Missouri)

2. The Risk of Future Attacks

A dog that bites an owner unprovoked even once is more than capable of doing it again. Even if the animal hadn’t shown aggression before, the fact it ended up biting the owner is a sign that it's capable of causing harm. In short, regardless of how much the owner trusts their pet, there is no guarantee the dog won’t attack them again in the future.

3. The Risk of Legal Suits

Lastly, not reporting the bite means the state could charge the owner with a felony. If the dog ends up attacking a stranger or another person’s property unprovoked, the state will consider the owner legally liable. Furthermore, if Missouri courts uncover the animal had a history of biting, they could charge the owner with a Class B Misdemeanor.

The charge could increase to a Class E felony if both the first and second attack caused a serious injury. What’s more, the owner can face a Class E felony if their animal attacks and kills someone. Therefore, it’s better to err on the side of caution and report the incident, even if it means losing a four-legged companion.

For other concerns regarding this matter, consult the best dog bite lawyers in St Louis MO immediately.