Under “dangerous dog laws” in most states, and similar ordinances in many cities and counties, courts could require owners to take special precautions once their animals have threatened or injured someone. The judge could even order that the animal be euthanized if it poses a risk of serious harm. An owner who doesn’t comply with the restrictions could face criminal penalties.
In rare instances in which a dog kills someone because of their owners’ reckless or deliberate actions, authorities could charge the owners with manslaughter or a similar crime. Sometimes, a state will have a specific criminal law applying to severe dog attacks. For instance, Florida authorizes criminal charges against the owner of a dog that seriously injures or kills someone if the owner was aware the animal was
dangerous but ignored the risk.
If a Dog Hurts You
There are numerous steps you must take immediately after you’ve been bitten or otherwise harmed by a dog:
- Get the names and phone number of the dog’s owner. Even if you don’t think you’ll be requesting any money, you might change your mind the next day when you realize that jumping out of the way of that lunging dog has resulted in a swollen ankle. If the owner has liability insurance, get that information too.
- Obtain contact information of any witnesses. You might need them to back up your version of what happened if you and the dog’s owner later disagree or if you don’t know who the dog belongs to. Animal control authorities might be able to find the dog from your description and then find the owner.
- Take pictures. If you can, get the dog’s picture, your visible injuries, and anything in the vicinity that could support your version of what happened, like a hole in the fence that the dog came through or an open gate.
- Seek medical attention if you need it. If your injury is serious enough to necessitate medical attention, get it immediately. Keep records of hospital visits, doctor visits, and copies of bills.