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Holiday visits could leave you at risk for a severe dog bite

The holidays bring with them the need to travel to see loved ones if you intend to spend certain days together. The logistics of planning for holiday trips often involve determining how to transport a cooked turkey across state lines or similar practical concerns, such as whether to bring gifts or have them shipped to the host's house.

Fewer people take the time to consider the potential safety implications of their holiday plans. If your loved one that has dogs, you and your family members need to be aware of the risk those dogs may pose, particularly for small children. For some unfortunate individuals, the holidays take a turn for the worse when a family pet snaps at or viciously bites another member of the family.

Know the body language and vocalizations of an angry dog

One of the simplest and best ways to keep your loved ones safe from canine aggression is to make sure your family knows what an angry dog looks and sounds like. Some things that seem like common sense aren't really so obvious, especially to children who haven't lived with a dog before.

Children may mistake the body language of a dog that is afraid or aggressive for one that wants to play. From the position of the ears to the exposure of teeth and the position the dog takes, there are many potential warning signs when a dog feels threatened or aggressive.

Know your rights if a dog hurts someone you love

Ideally, if a dog suddenly becomes aggressive, someone will notice before things go too far. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Thousands of people across California every year wind up suffering serious, noteworthy injuries caused by dogs.

Provided that the person who gets bit was not directly provoking the dog to violence by abusing or torturing it and was not breaking the law by doing something like trespassing at the time of the dog bite, those who get hurt by aggressive animals have rights under California law. In fact, California extends more protections to dog bite victims than many other states. Through its strict liability statutes, California holds dog owners accountable when their animals injure or maim someone else.

In many other states, so-called one-bite rules give owners and dogs a free pass on liability the first time the dog becomes aggressive or hurts someone. In California, you do not need to prove that the dog has a history of injuring anyone, only that the dog became violent and the result was an injury to you or someone in your family. In some cases, you may be able to seek compensation through an insurance claim against either renters or homeowners insurance held by the dog's owner.

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