• Brad Keating

What Happens After A Dog Bite Is Reported?

Updated: Nov 4

When most people think of dogs, they think of a 'man's best friend.' However, many forget that these 'best friends' are animals with animal instincts. Yes, these animals are domesticated. Nonetheless, sometimes nature does prevail, and a person is left with having to report that they've been bitten by one of these animals.


It isn't a likely event to occur for most people. Thus, the procedures that should be followed aren't well-known. This article is designed to bring clarity to this matter and help inform those that have found themselves in this kind of predicament. 


The Animal Instincts of a Dog Can Be Dangerous


Dogs bring a lot of joy to a person or group of people. However, there are some instances where the good nature of dogs is forgotten. These instances usually occur when a dog bites someone. It may be someone who has been bitten by a dog, or someone's dog may have bitten a bystander while out on a walk.


No matter what the instances that led to the dog bite, it's always important that every case is dealt with properly. One of the biggest threats that come with being bitten by a dog is contracting rabies. This, along with many other reasons, makes it essential to follow the proper legal steps when this event occurs. Conducting these steps aids in protecting those affected by the dog bite, as well as the entire public.



What Should Be Done After A Dog Bite?


One of the first steps that the law requires to be conducted after a dog bite occurs is to file a report with the police department. This report should preferably be done at a department located in the same area as where the dog bite took place. The person that is filing the report needs to be prepared to answer some of the following questions:


·        Explaining what happened (in detail)

·        The circumstances that led up to the event

·        Supply the names and information of the people who were involved or witnessed the

event happen


Along with filing a police report, it's crucial to have a local doctor inspect the dog bite. As previously mentioned, dogs bites are treated with caution due to the severe consequences of being bitten by a dog. One of these consequences is rabies. It's vital to make sure that the person who has sustained a dog bite collects the dog owner's information. The doctor treating the dog bite is going to need this to contact the owner about the dog's vet. The doctor can then gain all the necessary information so that he or she can treat the wound effectively and provide essential medications such as rabies and tetanus shots.


Why Is It Important To File A Report?


Although this occurrence may not mean that the dog is a threat to the public, it's still vital to make the local authorities aware of what has transpired. A person who's been bit by a dog needs to ensure that the correct precautions are put in place to ensure that this doesn't happen to any other person.


Making the situation known allows the correct channels to become informed about the dog bite. Places like local animal control can get involved and inspect the dog's health. This helps provide adequate medical treatment to the person that's been in an attack.


It's also a good idea to have the event on record in case legal action is taken up and an attorney is needed. A person may want the dog owner to pay for the doctor's cost accumulated from the event, and the owner is refusing. An attorney is going to need the dog attack report to be able to provide a good case in court to earn financial compensation from the dog's owner.


What Happens When A Dog Bite Is Reported?


Those affected by a dog attack may wish to gain information on what action has been put into place after filing the report. It happens very often that a report is left untouched once someone files it with the government.


Most of the time, the report is either stored in a filing cabinet or database, and nothing is ever done about it. For this reason, many people wonder what happens to the costs accumulated from the bite, dog, and other bills.


One of the first steps that come after a report is filed is that the dog is quarantined. This usually entails that it is restricted to the owner's home. He or she is not allowed to let the dog go outside of the yard or house. Along with this restriction, the dog also shouldn't come in to contact with another person.


The dog is usually allowed to remain in the owner's custody until a disposition has been reached. These restrictions are required to be followed by the owner in order for the dog to be allowed in the owner's custody.


However, alternative circumstances can lead to the dog being taken to a shelter. The dog would be quarantined in that particular shelter until a determination is made. There are a couple of factors that may lead to this procedure being put in place. These are:


·       The owner is found not to be following the required restrictions

·       The dog is seen to be a considerable threat by either the local police department or local

animal control agency


How Is A Dog Bite Report Investigated?


The local animal control officer is required to verify if the incident happened in the same way as it was detailed in the report. Added to this, they also assess the victim's risk of contracting rabies from the sustained bite. This investigation is typically done within 24 hours of initially receiving the report.


These local animal control officers are also required to investigate the dog and interview the victim. The severity of the bite is assessed through the interviewing process. During this interview, the local animal control officer can give the victim adequate information pertaining to the medical care that he or she should seek. The victim's personal information and version of events are recorded.


The investigation of the dog that's conducted by the officer involves gathering the following information:


·        The dog's rabies vaccination history

·        The dog's breed

·        Contact information of the individual who owns the dog

·        Any past bites or other indications of violence that the dog has shown

·        The contact information of the person that's taken responsibility for the dog during its

quarantine process

·        The version of events from the person who owns the dog

·        Information pertaining to the dog's license

·        The state of the home where the dog lives (especially the steps that are taken to ensure

the dog stays under control)


The results of this investigation determine the local animal control officer's rabies evaluation. These results may be subpoenaed as evidence if any legal proceedings occur in the future.



The Role Of Animal Control


Animal control is heavily involved when a dog attack occurs. The law provides animal control with a lot of power over the situation. For example, animal control officers are the ones that conduct the assessment required by law that categorize the reported dog as either dangerous or vicious. The animal control officer also provides the correct placement for the animal. In cases where the animal is deemed dangerous or vicious, the animal is specially placed during the quarantine process.


How Is A Dog Bite Incident Handled Under California State Law?


California law pertaining to dog bites are designed to guarantee the safety of the public. The central governing bodies involved in maintaining these laws are the police department and the animal control office. These are some of the measures that are put in place to help keep the safety of the public:


When Does California State Require A Dog To Be Quarantined After It Bites Someone?

California law requires that a dog is quarantined after biting someone. However, these bites need to be reported as the quarantine process is triggered by this report. The purpose behind this mandatory quarantine is to make sure that the reported dog does not have rabies.


A dog that doesn't appear to be rabid can be held on the owner's property for its quarantine period. However, the dogs deemed to have a high risk of rabies are required, by the laws upheld by animal control officers, to be quarantined in a shelter.


California law requires that this process lasts for ten days. The quarantine ends in the dog being released if the dog is found not to have rabies. However, dogs are euthanized if they are found to have rabies.


The dog is likely to be removed from the owner's custody and put into a shelter if the owner doesn't comply with the quarantine process. Moreover, the owner can also face criminal charges if he or she is found by animal control officers to be disobeying the quarantine regulations.


As previously mentioned, the dog is required to be euthanized if it is found to have rabies. This determination is made by the animal control officers that are in control of the reported incident. Along with this, dogs that are rabid cause the legal damages suffered by the victim to increase drastically. Moreover, a full financial recovery for the victim can be prevented if the owner's dog doesn't have insurance. 



What Are The Rabies Risk Factors That Determine The Way The Dog Is Quarantined?

There are various factors that all contribute to the local animal control officer's assessment that indicates the risk of the dog carrying rabies. These factors are:


·        Whether the rabies virus has been found in the respective area within the recent days or

up to three weeks

·        The dog's age (younger dogs are generally more at risk of contracting the rabies virus)

·        Abnormal aggressive behavior (or aggressive behavior that's excessive if the

assessment is being conducted on a breed of dog that has an aggressive nature)

·        The way the wounds were medically treated

·        The number of dog bites sustained by the victim (along with the location and severity of

these bites)

·        Whether the dog was provoked by the victim in any way

·        Whether the rabies vaccinations of the dog were promptly administered


The results from this assessment control where the dog is going to be kept in quarantine.


Quarantine: Home or Shelter?

In California, the law regulates that the animal control officer in charge of the report can decide where the dog is placed during its quarantine process. This placement can either be at the home of the individual who owns the dog or somewhere else.


An animal control officer may decide that the particular dog has a high-risk chance of having rabies. In this case, the dog isn't quarantined on the owner's property. Instead, the dog is placed in one of these locations:


·        A pound or shelter

·        A kennel that's under contract with the respective animal control office

·        The office of the dog's veterinarian


At each of these facilities, there are trained staff members equipped to monitor the dog to look for signs of rabies.


No matter the location the dog is placed in, the quarantine process requires that the dog is kept away from contact from other animals or people. Moreover, the dog must be held either in a yard that's securely fenced-in or indoors. Only one person must look after the dog while it's being quarantined.


While the dog is under quarantine in the owner's house, the animal control officer can conduct inspections that are unannounced. Added to this, the animal control officer is required to take the dog away and quarantine it somewhere else if he or she finds that the terms of the quarantine process aren't being complied with.


When a dog is required to be quarantined, it's very common for a dog to be placed somewhere else during this process. This is because it's easier for the dog to be monitored, and those that are monitoring the dog are trained. Nonetheless, a dog may be granted quarantine at the owner's house if the animal doesn't have a history of expressing violent behavior and its up-to-date with its vaccines.


Why Is There A Quarantine Process After A Dog Bite In California?

In regards to the quarantine process, the California law is driven primarily by the potential threat of rabies. It's in the interest of the public to do everything they possibly can to reduce the risk of getting rabies.


There are some signs of rabies that are only visually evident in a few days. Thereby, a dog is deemed as rabies-free if this animal can go ten days without showing any signs of rabies. This quarantine process is done to ensure that dogs with rabies aren't roaming around the streets and have the ability to infect other animals or people.


What Happens If The Person Responsible For The Dog Doesn't Abide By The Quarantine Law?

The California law, in regards to home quarantine, is stringent. Failing to adhere to this law might, if not always, result in the dog being taken elsewhere for the duration of the quarantine process.


Moreover, the law also stipulates that an individual hiding a dog that has been reported of a dog bite is committing a misdemeanor crime. The repercussions of hiding a dog or violating the terms of the quarantine process may result in:


·        The perpetrator facing a maximum of one year in jail

·        The perpetrator having to pay between $100 to $1000 worth of fines

·        Both of the above


What Happens Next?

The governing body, usually the local animal control office, takes all of the information gathered during the investigation and the dog's quarantine to determine which category the dog falls under. The classes that the dog can fall under are either potentially dangerous or potentially vicious. Each class has its own stipulations. These are:

  • Potentially dangerous dogs are required to be confined either inside or in a fenced-in yard deemed child-proof and escape-proof. Along with this, the dog is required to be on a substantially strong leash and under the control of the adult who's responsible for the dog when the animal is off of the owner's property.

  • Potentially vicious dogs may be euthanized in most cases. However, some cases might allow the dog to remain alive. In many states, there is a one-bite rule in their injury laws. Nonetheless, severe conditions are needed to be imposed in order to guarantee the safety of the public. These are sporadic cases that may only be allowed if the dog has been diagnosed with a curable disease, which has caused this aggressive behavior. Thereby, an example of these conditions is that treatment is provided to combat this illness.


What Is A Dog Bite Lawyer?


A dog bite lawyer is a specialized attorney equipped to effectively represent victims in the legal proceedings of a dog bite case. A dog bite lawyer can also represent the individual responsible for the dog that has been reported of biting someone.


Why Should A Victim Get A Dog Bite Attorney To Represent Them?


The dog bite attorney's overall role is to assist the victim who has sustained the dog bite before and during the legal proceedings of the dog bite case. Oftentimes, the victim looks to sue for a dog bite. The primary duties that a dog bite attorney is often required to do is to seek compensation for the victim's injuries and prepare for the legal proceedings.



Why Should Dog Owners Get A Dog Bite Attorney To Represent Them?


This type of attorney is specialized to help in the legal proceeding when severe dog biting has occurred. A dog bite attorney may assist in the following ways:


·        Seeking any entitled compensation for injuries sustained (if another dog attacked the

dog)

·        The representation of an individual owning the dog during the euthanasia hearing

·        To help dog owners deal with their insurance company after someone has sustained a

bite from their dog. 

·        To help dog owners in recovering damages after multiple dogs or a dog bites their dog


Frequently Asked Questions


"Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help If a Person Sustained a Bite from a Dog?"

The law does permit a dog bite attorney to represent someone that has been a victim of a dog bite. Most dog bite attorney cases help people that have had this occur. Victims represented by this type of attorney might have been hurt from a dog biting them, knocking them down, or injury may have been sustained from a dog jumping on them.


This type of attorney provides the victim with compensation. They do this by proving that someone else is legally responsible or liable for the injuries that the victim sustained. Added to this, the attorney also recovers the compensatory payments that are received from the liable individual or group.


To do this, the attorney might pursue a variety of legal theories. These include:


·        The California dog bite statute which holds the person responsible for the dog liable

·        The person responsible for the dog should have known about the dangerous

propensities of the dog

·        The dog's keeper violated a local regulation or law in such a way that can be deemed as

negligent per se

·        A person's action was negligent, which led to the dog biting


Once the defendant's liability has been established by the attorney, he or she must find an appropriate way to collect compensation. This can be challenging if the defendant doesn't have insurance.


"Can An Attorney Help If the Dog Was Attacked?"

An attorney specializing in dealing with dogs biting laws can also effectively pursue compensation for injuries that a dog sustained in a dog attack. Dogs are considered as the personal property of their owners under California law. The owners of dogs that have been injured from a dog attack can seek compensation for their 'property damage.'


"Can A Lawyer Help If the Family Dog Bit Someone?"

A dog attorney has the capability to help dog owners whose pet has bit someone. The law allows the owners of these dogs to use legal help on two fronts. These are:


·        To provide protection for the dog through the quarantine and euthanasia procedures

·        To make sure that the insurance companies of the owners provide the coverage that

was promised


"How Would An Attorney Prove This Case?"

No client is the same, which means that the lawyer's procedures are going to be different for everyone. However, these cases often involve a human victim who wishes to gain compensation for the suffering or losses they have sustained. A lawyer might often help this victim by doing the following:


·        The sending of a demand letter to the responsible parties or insurance companies

·        Conducting an investigation into what happened

·        Filing the correct lawsuit

·        The assembling of a case that has the ability to hold the defendant liable

·        The collection of the settlement or judgment


Hiring a lawyer to pursue your claim often adds a lot of weight to a case. Insurance companies often take a case more seriously when these businesses see a victim hiring a lawyer. The offers of compensation are often seen to rise as soon as the victim of the incident hires a lawyer.


"Can Someone Represent Themself In A Case Where There Has Been A Dog Bite?"

It is possible for victims that have been bit by an animal, such as a dog, to represent themselves. However, many people that do this often state that gathering the evidence required to help build a strong case is exceptionally challenging. This gathering of evidence is often regarded as being difficult for lawyers that are experienced. Imagine what it's like for those that don't have the knowledge that these lawyers have.


Moreover, insurance companies often see victims representing themselves as easy targets to push down and offer lower compensation. Without prior experience, victims might believe that they are being treated fairly. Instead, they may be taken advantage of.


"What Types of Compensation Can a Person Receive?"

Most experienced attorneys are going to pursue a vast amount of compensation available to the victim who has been reported of being involved in an animal attack, like a dog. California's local lawyers can use the law to contact the necessary channels to gain these compensations. These compensations include:


·        Medical bills for past and future (sometimes for more than a year)

·        Pain and suffering

·        A reduction in earning capacity

·        The loss of wages

·        Lifestyle changes

·        Punitive damages

·        Medical costs and lifetime care (in cases where there have been severe injuries)

·        Medical monitoring


Experienced lawyers can also aid in identifying any damages that are bound to arise in the future from the injuries sustained in the attack. The dogs have powerful jaws that can make the nature of these attacks very dangerous. Due to this dangerous nature, serious injuries can be sustained. That's why California law has put specific procedures to ensure that those (the public) affected by these dangerous events get the compensation they deserve. A qualified and experienced lawyer can help you receive these compensations.


It's essential to make sure that the individual understands and prepares for the fact that these cases can take a while to be resolved. It's not unusual for a case to last up to a year.




Disclaimer: The details included in this blog is offered for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as lawful guidance in any way. No recipients of material from this blog, clients or otherwise, should or should not act on the basis of any material consisted in the blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional guidance on the particular facts and situations at issue from an attorney accredited in the recipient's state.

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