California law on dog attacks: what every pet owner needs to know

dog bite attorney in san diego

Dog bites can put the owner in legal trouble. Be sure you know California law on dog bites and dog attacks.| Photo Credit: Kit Sen Chin PHOTOS.COM

A vicious dog attack in Fallbrook reminds dog owners to take control of their pets. Find out what you need to know about dog bites, California law, and how to be a responsible pet owner.

by Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert

Dogs are a man’s best friend. That famous sentiment has lasted the test of time and there’s no doubt that dogs are wonderful companions. But as much as we love our furry friends, it’s up to us to be responsible in taking care of them properly – and that includes their mental health as well.

The advice follows on the heels of a recent dog bite attack in Fallbrook that resulted in a 30-year-old woman’s death. According to medical examiners, the woman tragically died due to “multiple penetrating, mauling and blunt force injuries” inflicted by a group of dogs.

The woman was caretaking the property while its owners were away. She was dropped off earlier in the day but when a family member picked her up, she was found in the backyard unconscious surrounded by a pack of dogs. While the details of the dog attack remain unclear, officials suspect her death occurred as a result of multiple dog bites.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department identified eight large dogs on the property believed to be American Bulldogs and Olde English Bulldogges. All eight animals were impounded on Sunday by the San Diego Department of Animal Services and are currently being held until further review.

The dogs have not yet been euthanized until a cause of death is officially recorded.

As for neighborhood safety, residents throughout San Diego have expressed concern over the proper breeding and upkeep of dogs in the area.

“I know two grown men who were scared of these dogs,” said one commenter. “They alerted their owner of their aggressive behavior.”

“We have to stop buying animals from homeowners like this. If nobody buys them the money will dry up and people will stop breeding animals in their backyards,” said another Facebooker.

Dog bite laws in California

When you own a pet, you take responsibility for its actions. In the state of California, dog bite laws are defined under Civil Code section 3342 – a law that helps to legally protect the public in the event a dog bites or dog attack is sustained. The statue says that if a dog attacks a person, it is the responsibility of the dog owner. In other words, it’s up to the dog owner to take full responsibility for his or her pet. If an accident does occur, then the dog owner is generally held responsible.

A person who is injured due to a dog attack has the right to seek damages according to California law.

The seriousness of dog bites and dog attacks

Dog bites can cause a lifetime of injury or even wrongful death. Types of injuries sustained after a dog attack include:

  • Catastrophic injury (muscle damage, nerve damage)
  • Loss of extremities (bone damage, loss of limbs)
  • Permanent scarring (torn tissue, facial disfiguration)

To prevent dog attacks, we must be responsible pet owners. Remember, the law requires you to keep your pet in control – if you don’t, you may be held liable if a dog attack ensues.

Dogs require a ton of work to keep healthy, both physically and mentally. Walk your pet regularly to get his or her energy out. Never leave your dog tied up for a long period of time as this can result in a lot of unwanted aggression. If you suspect your pet is a risk to other residents, have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian. Don’t keep dogs in packs as this can result in attack behavior, especially if the animals are not tended to.

It’s up to you to be a responsible pet owner.

If you need legal help in the wake of a dog attack or dog bite, call the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC at 1-800-655-6585 for a free consultation.

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Posted by Social Media Staff on Nov 29, 2012. Filed under Columns, Michael Pines, Sponsored Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “California law on dog attacks: what every pet owner needs to know”

  1. debbiebell

    I think people who acquire dogs with the breed traits to attack and kill should promise society that should they fail to protect their neighbors and visitors from dog attacks, the owners will inflict the same injuries on their own bodies.

    Lawn mowers could be run over the dog owner's feet, lets hands. Faces can be held into weed wackers/brush cutters. Dog owners could tie themselves onto the back bumpers of vehicles and be dragged until their bodies are shredded.

    Really trust your dogs not to harm others, and your ability to keep your pets contained? Prove it. Post your identity and the identity of your dogs on FB. If your dogs maim or kill, take action and suffer the same injuries that YOUR victims suffer. Punish the deed.

    Aggressive dogs are frequently acquired for the vicarious power and aggression they provide their owners. Dog owners can terrorize their neighborhood, inflict permanent, even fatal injuries on pets/people victims, and walk free.

    If it is illegal for me to approach my neighbors (human and pet) on a public sidewalk, stab holes into their bodies, slice off chunks of flesh, why is it legal to breed, sell and promote the acquisition of dogs (pits and their American Bulldog cousins) of dogs designed specifically to do these same things? Ban pit/pit type breeding. Enact and enforce spay/neuter microchipping of all pits pit mixes, all dog aggressive dogs. Let these masters of mauling gradually become extinct. Everyone sane and compassionate wins, all dogs win too.

  2. debbiebell

    Had these dogs' owners instead chosen to own Keeshonden or Brittany Spaniels, this victim would still be alive. American Bulldogs, essentially long-legged pits, are, like pits, the best at tugging for no reason and not stopping. This attack was "good" fighting dog behavior, created by cruel dogmen and continued by cruel mongers of pits and other aggressive dogs.

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