Dog bites bicyclist

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Jul 8 2010 at 5:28pm #

So sunday morning I leave my house and begin riding up the sidewalk on boggs ave about 945 am. I slowly head up the hill a block away when a woman and a dog on a leash come out of a house on the right. I slow to a crawl to see what they are gonna do. The lady looks up the street then down and sees me. She then steps back to let me by. As I creep by the dog suddenly bites me on my right calf. I tell the lady the dog just bit me and she tries to deny it. I show her the teeth marks and little bit of blood on my leg. She says to me “why are you getting mad at me? my dog bit you not me” Wow are you serious? is the first thought in my head. I say to her that her dog is her responsibility,but she just cant grasp the concept and begins to cry when I say I am gonna call the police. Long story short is I get her number and leave because I am in a hurry and the bite wasn’t really bad. Not to mention I have no insurance to go to a doc with.

As I head off mt Washington I think about it more and decide to report this in case this dog has bitten before or might again. I get down to carson street and come across a animal control truck. I stop them and report what happened. The ladies driving the truck where very nice and helpful. They documented everything and went to the woman’s house to see if the dog had its rabies shots. They also gave me a number to call to check up on the situation.

Fast forward to this morning. I call the Animal control bureau to find out what happened with the dog. Well it turns out the dog does not have rabies shots so it is not quarantined to its house for 10 days to monitor it. They didnt really tell me what happens after that. Does the dog get taken away? Does the woman get fined? This dog is obviously dangerous. Not that I was gonna die from a small bite but what if i was a small child. My skin is thick from 31 years of sunburns and such, but a child dosent have the protection like a adult does. When I tried to ask these questions the woman told me they where very busy today and had to go. I told her to put me on with a supervisor. Another person came to the phone and said there is nothing they can do because the dog was on a leash at the time of the attack. What? really? If my dog (half pit bull) bit someone they would take her and kill her and KDKA would be at my fucking house reporting it. He asked what they should do. My answer was that this dog should be taken away before it bites another person. He told me they cant take away every dog in the city that bites a person. So it seems they only take the dog away when it is a pit. (only saying that because whenever I hear about a dog bite on the news it involves a pit) The dog that got me was a black lab or something similar so apparently the dog isn’t considered a threat even tho it just bit someone. Well after getting nowhere with this guy I asked to talk to his superior. I was told to call back tomorrow morning. So this is where I am now, sitting here holding my ass in my hand while trying to do the right thing.

Anyway sorry about the long story. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do or who to call next? 311, maybe the news. Im stuck here. Hell what made me think the city was gonna help me anyway. Just ask the woman who called 911 over the winter for her husband that ended up dying because they said they couldn’t make it to him and wanted him to walk to the ambulance. What did he think it was a taxi service?

Thanks in advance for any help everyone.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 6:10pm #

A few people you should call.

1. Attorney

2. Police

3. Your city councilman

4. Press (TV and/or newspaper)


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 6:37pm #

1) Call a doctor. There are a number of free clinics or places with sliding scales in Pittsburgh, google and call around. You may have to sit a few hours in a waiting room.

I don’t know how soon you need to get your shots if the dog is infected, but I am almost certain it is sooner than 10 days. Since they wont take the dog, there is a slim chance they’re going to test it for rabies (which requires them to take some of Fido’s brain tissue). Not sure what these animal control people are smoking. Why aren’t rabies shots required by law?

2) Call a lawyer.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 6:48pm #

“why are you getting mad at me? my dog bit you not me”

So….wonder how she would have reacted if you had bitten the dog back.

brian j

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Jul 8 2010 at 7:08pm #

Uh, rabies shots are required by law.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 7:27pm #


Yes, please go to a clinic ASAP! If you don’t know of a free or sliding-scale clinic, go here: It’s a website that offers resources/clinic listings for uninsured people.

Your health is most important. Then move on to attorney, police, etc. if you feel you want to take action.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 7:29pm #

Ahh, maybe it is just on of those unenforceable laws with no real repercussions? Why haven’t they taken this unvaccinated dog away?


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 7:34pm #

that sucks, I’m glad you’re (probably) ok. I had to get vaccinated for rabies (Peace Corps requires it, it SUX) and I was never bitten. I think it’s gotten better over the years, but you definitely want to call a clinic and find out, it’s one of those that if left untreated will kill you, just a matter of time. Apparently you have 10 days to get treated, but symptoms won’t start for 2 months or more.

The owner would pay for the treatment (though probably only after lawyer threats). I’d also keep after animal control and get names/employee numbers as well as documenting all conversations. Get a copy of the report you filed before they figure out you’re serious about making them do their job, it could get lost if more convinient.

Chris Mayhew

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Jul 8 2010 at 7:45pm #

The odds of getting rabies is fairly low. I was told there has not been a case in 20 years in the county.

However, dog mouths are dirty. If it starts to get red or swollen or change colors get to a doc ASAP.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 7:48pm #

IMO, call the Allegheny County Health Department first.

It’s illegal to have a dog who hasn’t had rabies shots. For sure.

But then it’s illegal to smoke pot, too.

Wiki seems to have agood article on rabies:

I’m pretty sure the Health Department will go to great lengths to get a brain biopsy on an undocumented dog that bites a human. Sherriffs and animal control knocking on the door and seizing the dog.

If you showed up at a hospital with a bite from an un-indentified dog, they would treat you for rabies prevention.

Its expensive, but I think the health auorities would pay for it. (Way cheaper than treating fulminant rabies).

More important than the expense, it is very painful and has possibilities of ugly side effects.

You are at enough risk, that I don’t think reputable medical authorites would want you to go untreated, but I have to say, the risk is pretty low. It’s just the consequences are high.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 8:13pm #

Did a google search on this. An unvaccinated (but presumed non-rabid) dog or cat will display symptoms of rabies within 10 days of exposure. That’s why a dog that bit a person is quarantined for that length of time. If illness appears, any human bitten or scratched by that animal has potentially been exposed, and should themselves seek treatment. It is important that the animal being quarantined DOES NOT receive a rabies vaccination during the quarantine period. It can take a long time for symptoms to appear in humans(flu like symptoms, mostly) but usually happens within two weeks or so. Disease advances to almost certain (and very painful) death within about a week without treatment. If bitten, and you don’t know the vaccination status of the animal, best immediate treatment is to wash the wound vigorously for 15 minutes as soon after the bite as possible. Definitely report any bite to animal control. They’ll be the ones overseeing the all important pet quarantine. One good source from which I took information:

helen s

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Jul 8 2010 at 9:09pm #

“why are you getting mad at me? my dog bit you not me”

So….wonder how she would have reacted if you had bitten the dog back.

When harrassed by a dog up at the oval once, I asked the owner if the dog bites me, which of them I should kick. He did not like my comment, but did not have an answer. I thought maybe both.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 10:14pm #

i also recommend a free clinic for you.

while i never hope that any dogs have to get put to sleep, i do think it’s bullshit that pits always get the negative news coverage. there are so many “harmless little dogs” that bite. my boxer/pit got bit in the face by my mom’s stupid begal. when i tell patients at work that i have a boxer/pit, they give me a scared look.

also, contact a lawyer just in case something does happen. better to be safe than sorry.


Private Message

Jul 8 2010 at 10:29pm #

If she owns a house or property, the insurance will

cover ALL of your medical bills. Dont be afraid to

seek medical treatment at her expense. Contact a


Noah Mustion

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Jul 9 2010 at 1:16am #

“dog bite, on my leg!

not right, supposed to beg!”


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 1:59am #

Yea, the homeowners/renters insurance will cover it, if she has insurance. Don’t rack up any bills you aren’t prepared to pay yourself. I’d stick with the free/sliding scale places if you can.

This goes for bike/car crashes too. Even if the driver that hits you has insurance, and you are able to access it, the minimal medical coverage in PA is only like $5k. That will be gone as soon as the medics roll you through that ER door, unfortunately.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 2:49am #

I don’t necessarily agree that because a dog bite you, it is inherently dangerous. How many dogs do you see run up to bikes or bark at cyclists only to be stopped by fences or leashes?

As other people posted already, the chances of you getting rabies is extremely minimal. Its rare in wild animals (contrary to everybody that freaks out about raccoons) so I imagine it is even more rare in domesticated animals.

I would recommend giving dogs more space so they’re not in biting range. Likewise, it isn’t recommended that you pet strange dogs. They’re territorial animals by nature.

While it WAS the dog that bit you, it was the lady that didn’t properly socialize her dog. But I think it might be more proactive to give dogs space rather than try and enlighten dog owners on their responsibilities after the fact.

(Also not entirely sure from your description where this happened, were you riding on the sidewalk when you got bit?)


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:02am #

I don’t necessarily agree that because a dog bite you, it is inherently dangerous. How many dogs do you see run up to bikes or bark at cyclists only to be stopped by fences or leashes?

As other people posted already, the chances of you getting rabies is extremely minimal. Its rare in wild animals (contrary to everybody that freaks out about raccoons) so I imagine it is even more rare in domesticated animals.

Yea, fine. If the dog bites me maybe I was asking for it, whatever. The problem here is the dog is not vaccinated, which others have point out is against the law. I have no sympathy for this pet owner, as she didn’t properly vaccinate her animal. She did, in more than one way, neglect her responsibilities as a pet owner.

The point of taking the animal away is not because it is dangerous, it is because you should biopsy the brain for rabies. I don’t care what the chances are.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:08am #

Perhaps we should have put down Mike Tyson when he bite that other boxer to see if he had rabies too.

The whole point of the ten day quarantine is to determine if the dog has rabies right? Anybody have the statistics on the number dog bites compared to the number of dog bites that result in the victim contracting rabies? I don’t think decisions should be based on fear, paranoia, and unknown probabilities.

Old Yeller was a plot device, not a normal occurrence.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:39am #

riding on the sidewalk = legal (non commercial zone)

non vaccinated dog = illegal

I would say rather than giving dogs more room so

they are not in biting space… the owners should

literally give the dog less leash, so i am not

in biting space. Blaming the victim, short of

provoking the animal on purpose, is a bad precedent.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:43am #

Stef:Cheryl and I talk about what you said all the time. I wonder how many little purse dogs bite people that never get reported because its small and cute. I would be willing to bet the numbers would be higher then bites from bigger breeds of dogs. The last time I was looking for a apartment one place wouldn’t rent to us because of these two snarling beasts pictured here.!/photo.php?pid=10975723&id=747445315

Also ty for the advice everyone. First thing tomorrow I will be contacting the supervisor at the animal control bureau and ask him/her what actions will be taken here. Next I will be finding a clinic so i can get checked out then most likely contacting a lawyer. The simple fact is the dog is not up to date on his shot. Most likely there is nothing wrong with him but id rather be sure then be dead. I feel for the dog honestly. He might have to die because his owner didn’t follow the laws of dog ownership.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:44am #

well said steevo, thank you


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 3:48am #

From the wikipedia page linked earlier: Worldwide, the vast majority of human rabies cases (approximately 97%) come from dog bites. In the United States, however, animal control and vaccination programs have effectively eliminated domestic dogs as reservoirs of rabies.

In this case, vaccination does not play a direct role. However effective it may have been.

There also has never been a documented case of human to human rabies transmission via biting, so that doesn’t seem a reasonable excuse to euthanize Mike Tyson. Further, I’d hardly say his biting episode was unprovided. I don’t know about you, but I value the life of a human being far more than that of a neglected pet.

If health officials determine a 10-day quarantine is effective and provides enough time for vaccination, then I suppose that is a reasonable step.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 4:21am #

I value the lives of all sentient beings with their own interests equally.

Steevo, legality is irreverent to getting bit by the dog. Unless you have evidence that rabies shots equates to dogs not biting, chances are, the dog would have still bit Willie.

Furthermore, citing laws is a poor preventative measure from staying out of harms way. Example:

riding bicycle in East Liberty: legal

assaulting people in East Liberty = illegal

In no way did I blame Willie. I imagine the majority of dogs he encountered up to this point didn’t bite him, so he probably had no reason to expect this one would either. I’m just advising to use caution.

If you want shorter dog leashes, advocate for changing the law (I’m not sure if Pittsburgh has such a law, my hometown did) Not sure it would make a difference, it sounded like Willie was pretty close

And now for statistics (2008) from the United States:

Cases of rabid dogs in PA: 3

Cases of rabid Humans: 0

Cases of rabid dogs in the US: 75

Cases of rabid Humans in the US: 2

US Population: 307,006,550 (Google)

Anybody want to do the probabilities on the chances of dying from or being infected from other crazy diseases?


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:16am #

So how many unvaccinated dogs bit humans in PA? How many unvaccinated dogs are in the state? It is impossible to calculate your chances of death without these numbers. Since the rabies vaccine is required by law, I am going to assume most dogs have had it. If you assume that, then 3 rabid dogs out of the small, unvaccinated dog population pool does not sound so great.

Other crazy diseases usually have symptoms, and you can get treated. Once you know you have rabies, its too late.

If I came into contact with some random strangers bodily fluids, I’d be getting myself an AIDS and hep c test. Even though it isn’t very likely they have those diseases. Should follow then, when some random dog who probably doesn’t have rabies bites me, I’m going to seek treatment.

The reason the infection rate is so low is because there are vaccines, and brain biopsy tests. If people just threw up their arms and said, “Aww, its probably okay!” every time a dog bit them, those numbers would be much larger.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:26am #

Regardless of the unknown odds you’re talking about, the odds of getting rabies in 2008 was something along the lines of 2 in 300,000,000.

Rabies has symptoms. See CDC link. Also, on what basis is your “once you know you have rabies, its too late” sentence based on? There’s a bunch of symptoms beforehand that take place over a ten day period before rabies reaches the “fatal” stage.

“The reason the infection rate is so low is because there are vaccines, and brain biopsy tests. If people just threw up their arms and said, “Aww, its probably okay!” every time a dog bit them, those numbers would be much larger. ”

I’m not advocating for people throwing up their arms. I’m advocating for people to A) look at statistics and B) follow CDC Guidelines, which recommends the ten day observation period. Brain biopsies come after ten day observation periods when the animals show symptoms of rabies.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:35am #

I have a good idea – make the dog bite the owner and then take a brain biopsy from the owner.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:40am #

Right. The odds of any random person in the US getting rabies in 2008 was 2 in 300 million. The odds of getting rabies after being bitten by an unvaccinated dog are not anywhere close to 2 in 300 million. Sorry. You can not ignore the giant factors that are the basis of this thread.

From the link you provided: Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is typically supportive.

The way it works is, the disease makes its way through your CNS until it gets to your brain. Once it is there you become symptomatic. At this point, once you have it in your brain and you are symptomatic, it is too late to vaccinate you. It will not help.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:42am #

The statistics I provided don’t distinguish between vaccinated dogs and dogs that haven’t been vaccinated. I don’t like to make guesses, but I’m assuming that the majority of them weren’t vaccinated.

Be that as it may, it has NO EFFECT on the amount of rabies infections (to dogs or people) compared to US population.

You haven’t provided any data on A) number of dog bites (vaccinated and not vaccinated) B) dog bites that result in rabies C) dog population compared to vaccinated dog population

Even from the statistics that I provided you, you can extrapolate that 75 dogs in the ENTIRE country tested positive for rabies. Two humans died and neither death was from a dog bite. (2008 statistics)

We should just use Holy Grail science:

“So logically, if she weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood and therefore… a witch.”


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 6:59am #

+99,912 steevo


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 7:19am #

Ah, just realized what you’re trying to say statistics wise Dan. Because Willie was bit by a dog that wasn’t vaccinated he is in a smaller pool and is no longer in 300 the mil pool.

But still, from the data in the provided link; there have been no cases of rabies transmitted to humans from dogs in the US as far back as 2000. (Data before that isn’t in the link) One dog from Africa, one from Puerto Rico, one from Haiti, one from El Salvador and two from the Philippines did however bite humans who later died. Between (’00 and ’06)


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 10:21am #

willie – they’re adorable. we bought a house and then got our dogs, so we don’t run into the problem of not getting rental properties because of the breed of dog we have. although our insurance company has our dogs on file as being a boxer mix and a shepherd mix, which is what they are, and there’s not really any proof that there is pit in either one

salty – i don’t think that there would be much of a brain to biopsy if they tried to do it to the owner of the dog.

and does this thread remind anyone else of the rabies episode of “the office”? andrew bernard’s bleeding nipples. that is all i can think about while reading this thread


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 12:53pm #

ummm and even if the dog does not have rabies, it

still sucks getting bit 100% of the time.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:10pm #

The CDC’s advice matches the health department’s. You don’t need a vaccination unless the dog starts showing symptoms during the next 10 days.

I suggest following up with the health department after 10 days to make sure they’ve verified that the dog is still symptom-free. The law says they’re supposed to contact you though.


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 5:13pm #

“My answer was that this dog should be taken away before it bites another person.”

Here’s the statute on charging the owner with harboring a dangerous dog. If you convince a magistrate the dog is dangerous, the owner would be required to keep the dog muzzled whenever outside its enclosure. I didn’t see any provision for taking the dog away from its owner though.

That page has other dog-related PA statutes. See ยง 459-502 for the part about the 10-day waiting period, for instance.

General overview of dog laws


Private Message

Jul 9 2010 at 6:10pm #

Sounds what this owner really needs is some education on the rights and responsibilities of dog ownership. For the love of Pete, your dog can’t make moral choices. It’s a freakin’ dog. It’s up to the owner to manage and train the dog to behave. (And no, your dog can’t call the vet to schedule a rabies shot. No thumbs, so it can’t hold the phone.)

Getting a dog taken away from an owner in PA is very difficult. I had a neighbor (not in Pittsburgh, in the kentucky part of pensyltucky) who clearly was neglecting the dog. (Not feeding it, not properly providing shelter after it when it go below 0 degrees, etc.)

Called everyone who mattered, and they basically said “Call us when you see actual abuse.” (Because apparently freezing and starving your dog isn’t abuse.)

So, I called again when I saw abuse. The owner *punched the dog in the throat* hard enough that it hid and whimpered. This happened in front of witnesses other than myself. Authorities said “there is nothing we can do.” So I pressed them on what they would need for evidence and got hung up on.

Someone, not me nor my ex-wife, took to untying the dog so that it could be free. The dog always came back, which I think may be the saddest part of it all.

What I was able to do, after about a year of working at it was to get close enough to slip it extra food when the neighbor was away. (The dog, due to its treatment has a history of violence… and the neighbor would get all threatening if he/she saw me feeding the dog.)

I moved away in 2008, but as far as I know, the dog is still in the same situation (or dead).

Anyway, that is my rant, owners like that (and the owner of the dog in this thread) really get up my nose in case you didn’t notice.

Calling the health department and following up with them is a good plan. Hopefully the owner will learn from this experience… but the cynical side of me says that he/she will probably just drop the dog off at the nearest shelter because ‘it was a hassle.’


Private Message

Jul 13 2010 at 8:08pm #

Lucky, at least it was on your calf and not somewhere worse:


Private Message

Jul 13 2010 at 8:13pm #

@ Willie – tommorrow should be day 10 from the original bite (and presumed quarantine of the dog in question….) Any news to report?


Private Message

Aug 9 2010 at 9:33pm #

ok sorry it took me so long to respond. I just moved and been pretty busy. I did hear from the animal control people. The dog was fine and that was about all I was told. I have no idea if they are gonna fine the woman or what. All I really got from them was a short message.


Private Message

Aug 9 2010 at 11:16pm #

Glad to hear that you are in the clear, at least.

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