When many people think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the first thing that comes to mind is a battle weary soldier, however, anyone who has suffered a traumatic event can have symptoms of PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition that can occur after a devastating event, causing an individual to experience extreme anxiety. Having a traumatic event occur to an employee doesn’t guarantee they will suffer from PTSD, however, depending on the severity of the event it can occur. For instance, if an employee is bitten by a 6-pound Yorkshire terrier it may have little-to no effect on them, however, if a 85-pound pit bull were to bite them the effects could be devastating. For employees that have suffered a life-changing event such as a dog bite the long-term consequences can be debilitating. Even after the physical wounds have healed, the emotional recovery from a dog bite can be felt for years and years to come. In such an instance, the simple sight of a dog may trigger a panic attack or in extreme cases cause complete life alterations such as avoidance of dogs altogether.
Now, let’s consider the stress an employee may feel after the physical healing has ended, but emotionally they are dealing with the anxiety of returning to a work environment that exposes them to dogs. The very thought of returning to work may cause insomnia, irritability, and even flashbacks of the previous attack. If the employee is able to return to work, you may start to notice a difference in their job performance, along with a change in their behavior. The employee who was once a pleasure to work with may now seem withdrawn and even unmotivated to complete tasks. This can be a classic sign to the employer that help is needed or should be extended to the employee. It is important to be aware of the symptoms so aid can be extended if needed. Employers may also face the reality that some employees will never return to work, because the thought of returning means reliving the vicious dog attack. The employing company may consider providing the option for immediate therapy to employees who are victimized by a dog bite. This may help prevent PTSD symptoms from manifesting or allow the employee to receive the benefit of therapy before symptoms worsen.
Written By: Ashley Klawitter & Mitzi Robinson