Losing a finger to a Chihuahua bite seems highly implausible, but for one Utah man, it was nearly a reality. A neighbor’s small dog bit the man on his middle finger, causing a deep puncture wound and laceration the length of which spanned the distance between the two knuckles nearest his palm. The wound quickly became infected and swollen to twice the normal size, so he sought medical aid. Three Intermountain InstaCare visits later, the swelling had not subsided and the infection raged on. The medical professionals suggested the man seek surgery at a nearby hospital. After medical bills began to amass, the man pursued legal help. Christensen & Hymas recovered $45,000 in a settlement for their client from the at-fault party’s insurance company, Allstate Insurance.
Losing a finger to a Chihuahua bite seems highly implausible, but for one Utah man, it was nearly a reality. A neighbor’s small dog bit the man on his middle finger, causing a deep puncture wound and laceration the length of which spanned the distance between the two knuckles nearest his palm. The wound quickly became infected and swollen to twice the normal size, so he sought medical aid. Three InstaCare visits later, the swelling had not subsided and the infection raged on. The medical professionals suggested the man seek surgery at a nearby hospital. After medical bills began to amass, the man pursued legal help. Christensen & Hymas recovered $45,000 for their client from the at-fault party’s insurance company, Allstate Insurance.
The small dog that caused all the trouble was actually a breed called Toy Fox Terrier, a separate species of their own that traditionally descends from crossing small Smooth Fox Terriers with various toy breeds including Min Pins, Italian Greyhounds, and Chihuahuas. According to the Toy Fox Terrier Club, Toy Fox Terriers are “outgoing and friendly dogs.” They are “funny, loving, intelligent, and utterly loyal.” The Toy Fox Terrier Club warns, however, that although the dogs may be “friendly” and “loving,” their natural tendency to being “fiercely loyal” can have adverse consequences. They suggest that these dogs should not be “paired with very young children.” On the other hand, their loyalty and keen hearing “makes for an exceptional watchdog” and “capable of any range of activities from hunting, to obedience, to just lounging around in the sun.”
It is obvious, and has been well documented throughout history, that a loyal dog will defend its owner, and could be quite fierce at that, but the question remains: How could such a small dog, the size of a small Chihuahua, pack such a heavy punch? The answer lies within the shape of its teeth; they are fine and very sharp, much like a cat. According to Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, it is all about the depth of penetration. Dogs typically have larger and relatively dull teeth. They also have larger and more powerful jaws, which can do more damage to human skin and tissue by crushing, rather than by penetrating. A cat on the other hand, has less power to crush and tear, but its fine teeth generally means their bites penetrate deeper. The depth of the injury and its ability to be easily cleaned will indicate whether the wound has a high percentage chance of being infected. The deeper and smaller holes created by the teeth of a cat have an 80 percent chance of being infected. Compare this to a dog’s bite, which has only a 3 to 18 percent chance of being infected. For example, the thin, sharp teeth of a Toy Fox Terrier greatly resemble that of a cat, giving it a higher probability of leaving an infectious bite.
LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine further clarifies the dangerous nature of a cat’s bite by stating, “Cats’ teeth are thin and sharp, so the wounds they cause are more likely to be puncture wounds. These wounds can reach into joints and bones and introduce bacteria deeply into the tissue. Puncture wounds are very difficult to clean, so a lot of bacteria may be left in the wound. Also, most cat bites are to the hand, which makes infection more likely.” The similar structure of teeth that cats and Toy Fox Terriers share, again, is an indication of a higher probability of leaving an infectious bite.
So what are owners of Toy Fox Terriers to do? They certainly cannot exterminate all the cute animals, but they can follow these simple steps laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog;
- Do not play aggressive games with your dog;
- Properly socialize and train your dog;
- Teach your dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling);
- Seek professional advice (e.g., from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
Following these simple steps may not be enough to keep those who associate with your dog safe, but it is a start. Responsible care for any dog is required for dog owners. When responsibility is shirked, dog bites can happen, as the above story shows.
The man’s finger eventually did heal, but it took three visits to an InstaCare center and surgery from medical professionals at a hospital in order to fully quell the dangerous infection that may have taken his finger for good. These medical visits, including surgery, are costly. The legal expertise provided by the personal injury attorneys at Christensen & Hymas eased the man’s financial burdens.
Even though the small dog’s bite became a big concern to the man— the possibility of losing a finger—the medical and legal expertise of trained individuals ultimately packed the bigger punch.
About: Christensen & Hymas, Utah-based Personal Injury Law Firm
The personal injury attorneys at Christensen & Hymas represent clients who have been injured in car accidents, Utah bicycle accidents, dog bites, or a client who has lost a loved one in a wrongful death in Utah. They have won cases amounting to millions of dollars, which have ultimately enabled those who have been injured to better deal with the effects of personal tragedy that accompanies wrongful injuries. They have also written multiple free accident books, covering in great detail how to handle a personal injury and the repercussions therefrom.
For a free consultation with a Utah personal injury attorney, call Christensen & Hymas today at (801) 506-0800 or visit their website at https://www.christensenhymas.com/.
Christensen & Hymas:
Main Office — 11693 S. 700 E. Ste. 100, Draper, UT 84020 — (801) 506-0800 — Fax: (801) 506-0801
Utah County Office — 584 S State Street, Orem, UT 84058 — (801) 224-2999
Davis County Office — 503 West 2600 South #200, Bountiful, UT 84010 — (801) 294-9500