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Dog Bite 101

With Summer just around the corner, everyone will be outdoors more and there will be more interactions between humans and dogs. The vast majority of those interactions will be fun and friendly, but some will result in dog bites. In the United States, every year, about 800,000 people require medical treatment after a dog bite. Most dog bites occur on the owner’s property and some estimate that up to one-third of homeowners’ liability claims are for dog bites. So what should you do in case you are bitten by a dog?

For a serious dog bite that requires immediate medical attention, call 911. Also, get all of the necessary information you will need to report the bite before you leave the scene. At a minimum, you should get the name and contact information of the dog owner (or person in charge of the dog when the bite happened) and a description of the dog. The dog owner is under a legal obligation to provide you with his/her name and contact information. Cal. Penal Code section 398. Do not rely on your memory of what the dog looked like – make sure you take photos of the dog at the scene. If the dog is wearing a dog license tag (as required by law), take a photo of the tag but do not put yourself in more danger by getting too close to an animal that just bit you. Also, get the names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the attack.

Call San Diego County Animal Services (SDCAS) to report any dog bite, regardless how minor. SDCAS has a 24/7 emergency line 619-236-2341. Both the victim and the dog owner must report the bite SDCAS per San Diego County Code section 62.615; if the dog owner does not report the bite, he or she may be guilty of a misdemeanor offense.

Dog owners are strictly liable for any bite. Cal. Civil Code section 3342. In certain cases, the dog owner’s landlord also may be liable if he or she knew their tenant’s dog was dangerous or vicious. You will need to contact an experienced injury lawyer to determine who may be liable for your injury.

Some Safety Tips To Avoid Becoming a Dog Bite Victim:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • Never touch a dog that is behind a fence or in a vehicle.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
  • Never permit a child to play with a dog without adult supervision.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

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