Dogs provide companionship and perhaps some protection. Most people want a loving four-legged friend, not an animal that can maim or kill. Unfortunately, California has the dubious distinction of being "the dog bite capital of the United States," according to the LA Times. Approximately one-third of all homeowner insurance claims in the state result from dog bites. Under California law, the owner is liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten.
Breeds Most Likely to Bite
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the breeds implicated in serious dog bite injuries include:
- German shepherds
- Mixed breeds
- Pit bull types
- Chow Chow
- Jack Russell terrier
Pit bull types are the breed most likely involved in fatal bite incidents.
Nationally, cocker spaniels are high on the biter list, but these dogs seldom cause severe bite wounds. Other small dogs - such as the Lhasa apso and shih-tzu - tend to nip, but don't often cause serious injury. Still, any dog's bite may result in the necessity for plastic surgery. Any biting dog is a potential lawsuit. Unlike some states, California does not give a dog a pass on the first biting incident.
Dog on Dog Attacks
Even a dog good with people may behave aggressively toward other canines. Owners trying to break up dog fights are frequently injured in the process, and the canine victim may suffer serious injury or death. Under California law, the owner of the dog initiating the attack is responsible for subsequent veterinary bills and other costs associated with the victimized dog's injuries.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you or a loved one has been badly bitten by a dog, seek medical attention immediately. Contact the local police department and/or the animal control officer. For a minor bite, wash the wound out carefully with soap and water and apply antiseptic medication.
If you do not know the dog, find out who owns it. It is imperative to ascertain if the dog has a current rabies vaccination. In California, all dogs require rabies vaccination. If the dog is unvaccinated, it is confined and observed for 10 days to see whether illness develops. At the end of that time, a veterinarian must clear the dog and it can then receive a vaccination.
Contact an Attorney
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, or if you dog has bitten someone, you need the services of a lawyer specializing in California dog bite law. To schedule a free initial consultation with our California personal injury lawyers, call The Law Offices of Christian J. Amendt at 909-766-1994 or contact us online.
Sources: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/LiteratureReviews/Pages/The-Role-of-Breed-in-Dog-Bite-Risk-and-Prevention.aspx, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=03001-04000&file=3333-3343.7