(CBS) — Dog attacks can be vicious, even deadly, and every year thousands of adults and children become victims. Last year in Cook County there were nearly 5,000.

So would you know what to do if a dog attacked? CBS 2’s Mai Martinez has a look at how to survive and avoid them in this Original Report.

Armani McKinnis loves playing with his dog. It’s surprising, because just eight months ago his aunt Cyndi Upchurch says he was terrified of all dogs after being attacked by a pit bull.

“He came running out of nowhere,” remembered Upchurch.

The dog latched on to Armani, and in just seconds left him scarred for life. Counseling helped Armani overcome his fear of dogs.

“My face is healing up really good,” said Armani.

He is just one of more than 4,000 people attacked by dogs in Cook County in 2014. In DuPage County, 863 were attacked.

Barb Anthony, enforcement supervisor for DuPage County Animal Control, said, “Any dog has the potential to bite. Just because an animal wags its tail, does not mean that it’s friendly. High, stiff wagging could be nervousness. It could be an alerting signal that I’m uncomfortable. Don’t approach me.”

K-9 experts say anyone can be a victim. Why do dogs attack?

Dog trainer, Gary Tippett said, “There are a number of reasons. They’re fearful, they’re territorial.”

And sometimes they’re just aggressive or agitated from being restrained.

“I didn’t even notice that there was a dog tied up to the pole. Just out of nowhere, I felt something heavy on my thigh and I felt pain. I was frozen, I didn’t know what to do,” said dog bite victim, Meridith Canning.

So can you prevent a dog from attacking you? Experts say steer clear of tied up dogs and if a dog on the loose approaches you, don’t scream, and don’t look it in the eyes or smile because the dog could feel you’re challenging it… and most importantly, don’t run.

What is it about the running?

“That sets off the prey drive in the dog,” warned Tippett.

When it catches you, it’ll bite the first thing it can, as I discovered while working with a trained dog.

“Wow. She’s strong,” said Martinez.

So strong she had no trouble taking me and a trainer down.

So at this point, what should somebody do?

“He’s given his weak arm. He can fight him with the other arm,” said Tippett.
And what if you can’t get the dog loose?

“Well you yell… ‘Someone help me,’” said Tippett.

That’s exactly what Bonnie Price did when two pit bulls attacked her while she was walking her dog. She survived, but Toto didn’t.

“They were out for a kill, and they found it,” said Price.

Neighbor Chris Dubos heard her screams and ran to help.

“I saw her laying on ground and the dogs were on top of her and on top of her dog,” remembered Dubos.

Dubos grabbed a shovel and beat the dogs to stop the attack.

“This is my hero,” said Price, patting Dubos’ arm.

If there’s no one around to help, Tippett says grab anything you can and… “put that in their mouth instead of you.”

If that doesn’t work, use your thumbs to hurt the dog.

“Like press a thumb into the ear?” asked Martinez.

“Into the ear,” said Tippett.

“Or the eyes?” asked Martinez.

The eyes till they let go of ya,” said Tippett.

Experts also say if a dog takes you down, curl up in a ball and do your best to protect your face, neck and vital organs.

For more information, visit the following websites:

www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/avoid_dog_bites.html

www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/dog-bite-prevention

www.avma.org/public/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.aspx