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Have you been bitten by a dog?

Dogs are all around you in Ohio, and whether you love them or not, approaching or being approached by a strange dog carries a certain amount of risk. If you have been bitten by an unknown dog through no fault of your own, you may wish to press charges against the owner. However, before you call your lawyer, you have some legal obligations to the county.

Hamilton County Public Health notes that you are required by law to report all bites to the health department, even if it is just a playful nip from a family dog that is up to date on its shots. You also are expected to fill out a Mammal Bite Report Form for the health district. Once you have filed your report and confirmed that the bite occurred, the dog's owner receives notification from the health district that the animal is to be quarantined for 10 days following the incident. This time period allows health officials and veterinarians to observe the dog to determine whether it displays symptoms of rabies.

This process may seem complicated, but it is designed to ensure that you receive timely treatment if you are, in fact, exposed to rabies. It also prevents unnecessary treatments in instances where the dog is confirmed rabies-free. Given that many dog bites occur in Hamilton County each year, these steps reduce the risk of rabies’ being spread among wild and domestic animals and humans.

If you are bitten, do not forget basic safety steps. Before you make your report to the health department, wash the wound carefully with soap and water. Then, call your doctor. Keep in mind that a commonsense approach minimizes the risk of being bitten. Be careful around strange dogs, especially those exhibiting aggressive body language. Approaching dogs from behind or while they are sleeping or eating may startle the animal and result in a bite.



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