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How to minimize dog bite risk as the Chicagoland weather warms

Countless people around the greater Chicago area flock to outdoor spaces as the weather improves. People go to get fresh air, reach their step goals for the day or socialize with others. Occasionally, what should be a relaxing trip to the park could lead to a stressful encounter with a dog.

Dog bite incidents can occur at public parks as easily as they might take place in private residences. After all, those who own canine companion animals are likely as eager to get out and enjoy the sunshine as anyone else. In fact, they have the added pressure of their animals’ exercise needs.

How can those visiting parks in the spring, summer and autumn reduce the risk of an incident with an aggressive dog?

Avoid animal hotspots

There are some parks that exist solely for the exercise and excretory needs of canine companions. However, many parks that primarily cater to humans have special spaces dedicated to dogs as well. The parks with dog-friendly areas are some of the most likely to see dog bite incidents. Norwood Park, River Park, Portage Park and Wicker Park are all popular municipal parks with special dog-friendly areas. Owners who take their dogs there may allow them off-leash, which could lead to bites.

Know the warning signs of aggression

Dogs can be territorial in areas that they view as their home turf, and they can also be very defensive of their humans. It is therefore beneficial for anyone who might encounter a dog to carefully watch its body language. A tucked tail, flattened ears and aggressive vocalizations, including growling, are all warning signs that an animal perceives an individual as a threat. Dogs barking or growing at humans may warrant people giving them a wider berth for personal safety. Any dog that is not on a lease in a park or on a walking path is a potential hazard for people who encounter it.

Know what to do after an animal attack

Responding appropriately to an aggressive dog can help someone mitigate their personal risks. Identifying the dog by looking at its licensing and vaccination tags is helpful. Locating and communicating with the owner of the animal can also help. Proper medical care is also crucial in the aftermath of a dog bite incident. The potential for infection and disfiguring scars may be higher than it would be with an injury of similar size from a different origin.

It is sometimes possible to seek compensation via homeowner’s or renter’s insurance from an aggressive animal’s owner. Other times, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary to address the costs created as a result of a dog bite attack. People who understand these risks can take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their family members while enjoying the warmer weather.