Preventing Dog Bites in San Diego
Admit it: when you’re walking on a narrow sidewalk and a big dog walks toward you—even if it’s on a leash—you usually give it a lot of space. Not everyone has been bitten by a dog, but every one has heard of someone being viciously attacked.
In San Diego, it’s a common concern considering the famous mauling of a 75-year-old woman by a neighbor’s pit bulls in Paradise Hills. That was one of nearly 2,700 bite cases reported to the county Department of Animal Services that year. That’s roughly seven dog bites every day in areas from San Diego, Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Encinitas to Santee and Solana Beach.
Dogs Are Dangerous… If They Cause Personal Injuries
The law covering San Diego county says it takes two bites within a four-year period—or one bite causing “substantial” injury—before authorities can move to declare a dog dangerous. Such a declaration can result in anything from restrictions on where the dangerous dog can go, to it being euthanized.
Most owners learn from a first incident and take the right steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most people want to be responsible pet owners, but accidents do happen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Of those, one in five requires medical attention. Around 31,000 people need extensive surgery each year as a result of a dog bite.
Here’s some common-sense advice to protect yourself and your pet from strange dogs
- – Don’t make assumptions based on breed. While some breeds, like the common household Golden Retriever, tend to have gentle temperaments, individual dogs within the breed can be exceptions to the rule. People tend to think smaller dogs aren’t aggressive, but even small dogs have inflicted serious injuries.
- – Ask permission. Never touch a strange dog without checking with its owner first. Most people will be happy to tell you if their dog is good with strangers, or with children or other dogs. Once you have permission to pat the dog, don’t touch it before you get a sense that it wants your attention.
- – Beware of your body language. Dogs are more likely to bite when they are anxious. Approaching them in the wrong way can aggravate their anxiety. Stick your hand out, palm up, for the animal to sniff. If you move toward them in a non-aggressive way, you decrease the likelihood of aggression coming back at you.
Under California law, a dog owner can be liable for the damages suffered by a person bitten by the dog. State law says that a dog owner is strictly responsible for a bite. It doesn’t matter if the dog has never bitten before, never shown signs of aggression, or if the owner had no knowledge of past aggression.
People injured in dog attacks may be able to recover compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering through personal injury lawsuits. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, contact a knowledgeable San Diego attorney with experience in dog-bite cases to discuss your legal options.