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Be Extra Careful When Walking Your Dog During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted shelter-in-place orders across the country. People from all walks of life have been instructed to stay inside whenever possible, but taking a walk for fresh air, relaxation, and exercise is still permitted. As a result, if you look out your window to the neighborhood today, you will probably see more people walking their dogs than you did just a few weeks ago. Homebound dog-owners welcome the excuse to get outside, and are consequently walking their dogs more often.

While going for a walk is a great pastime for you and your furry friend, it comes with some hazards. In particular, with more people than before taking their dogs for walks, there is an inherently increased risk of a dog bite incident. Dogs are sometimes very human in their behavior, and so it is possible that many are feeling cooped up and restless, too, making them more irritable around strangers.

We anticipate a particular increase in dog-on-dog attacks. If two people are walking their dogs near each other, one dog could lunge for the other dog. If one of the dogwalkers loses control of the leash, both dogs can be seriously injured. Oftentimes, such a scenario results in injury to one of the dogwalkers, who places his or her hand between the dogs, trying to separate them, and gets bit.

Remember these safety tips the next time you are going for a walk with your pooch:

  • Use a leash: The greatest risk of increased dog bites during the coronavirus comes from people who are taking their dogs for walks without a leash because they think they won’t encounter anyone else at the park or on the street. Whenever you take your dog for a walk, it should be on a leash for everyone’s protection, including that of your dog and other canines. If your dog is not trained to walk on a leash, then the quarantine is a good time to let them practice, either in your own home or the immediate neighborhood around your home.
  • Maintain a wide social distance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) encourage maintaining at least six feet between yourself and anyone else not in your quarantine group during the coronavirus pandemic. This rule still applies when you are walking your dog. In fact, you should increase this distance to 10 feet or more to make it easier to keep your dog separated from others.
  • Pay attention to dog behaviors: As mentioned, dogs are intelligent and emotionally aware animals, which is why they make such great companions. Most dogs will show that they are upset, agitated, or looking for a fight through body language and growls. Be extra mindful when walking your dog or going for a job by yourself during the coronavirus pandemic. When approaching a dog, even one you know, take their behavior into account and give them space if they want it.
  • Bring a bag for waste: Don’t forget to bring a bag to dispose of any waste your dog may leave behind while on your walk. While this is always an important reminder to keep your neighborhood clean, it is even more important during the pandemic when people are more likely to be on edge, angry, and nervous. If another dog walker sees you leave your dog’s waste behind, then they may feel it is necessary to approach and reproach you, not only creating conflict between the two of you but also between your two dogs.

Of course, while walking your dog, you should protect yourself and others from the spread of the coronavirus as best you can. Wear a face mask or bandana over your nose and mouth at all times. You should also wear disposable or washable gloves that you can remove before touching other commonly used surfaces around your home.

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog while on your quarantine-permitted walk in Southern California, then McGee, Lerer & Associates can help you discover your rights and determine if you should file an injury claim in pursuit of compensation. We are still accepting new clients during the coronavirus pandemic by completing casework remotely via video conferencing, emails, phone calls, and more. Do not hesitate to call us at (310) 231-9717 when you need our legal counsel.