Occasionally, wild animals and even pets attack people. Understanding why animal attacks occur can help us minimise the risk of these incidents occurring.
Why animal attacks occur
Here are the top five reasons for animal attacks:
- Feeling threatened: Fear is a very basic emotion. When threatened, most animals will instinctively attempt to remove themselves from the perceived danger. Genetically programmed, their ‘fight or flight’ defence mechanism will have them either running away or fighting to remove the threat. In order to prevent personal injuries, it is therefore important to keep a respectful distance from wild animals and pets belonging to other people, as they may regard encroachment on their ‘personal space’ as a threat and respond accordingly.
- Protecting offspring: Animal mothers, like human mothers, will typically fiercely protect their young. To prevent being attacked by an animal, it is imperative never to get between a protective mother and her young or even attempt to approach the babies.
- Injured, sick and old animals: Sick, old or injured animals may attack people for two reasons: one is the fact that they may be in pain and will simply lash out at anything or anyone they think may be responsible for that pain. Attacks on people by wild animals too sick, injured or old to chase their usual prey are attempts to get an atypical, but comparatively ‘easy’ meal.
- Protecting territory: Many animals, and in particular land-based predators, are fiercely territorial, because well defined territories provide them with the necessary space to find sufficient food. Even pets like dogs can get territorial and defend their home against intruders they may consider to be a threat to their ‘livelihood’.
- Getting surprised: Surprising an animal or otherwise frightening it will also trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response. In many cases, the surprised animal’s first instinct is to ‘lash out’ at who or whatever surprised it in order to give itself the time and space to properly assess the situation. Slipping or tripping and landing on an unsuspecting pet, for instance, could easily result in being scratched or bitten.
Duty of care
Owners of pets and wild animals – zoos and wildlife parks, for example – have a duty of care to protect visitors against personal injuries. This includes preventing animal attacks as much as it includes preventing slips, trips and falls.
Should you be injured by an animal attack or sustain a slip, trip or fall injury through no fault of your own, you could be entitled to make a public liability claim. Have a confidential chat with an Accident Advice Helpline advisor on Freephone number 0800 689 0500, to learn more about claiming compensation.
Date Published: April 27, 2015
Author: Accident Advice