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

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.