Bites and Lawsuits – How to Avoid Them

By Bridget Alves >>>

When a dog feels threatened, odds are it’s going to bite someone (or at least attempt to). It’s in their bones, in their genes, it’s what they do. It’s why you can find signs for sale at the hardware store that state, in bold letters: “BEWARE OF DOG;” and it’s why particular dog breeds will instill a sense of apprehension in passersby. Every year about two million people are bitten by dogs, according to the CDC.

When someone is bitten by a dog, the law is typically on their side. This means that the owner of the dog will be held responsible for the actions of their pet. If it goes to court, owners of a dog who bites someone can be on the hook for the victim’s medical care, lost wages resulting from the dog bite, and even psychological care. If the dog was provoked, or if the injured person was trespassing, the owner of the dog may not be held responsible. However, it’s very difficult to prove these things afterward (often boiling down to one person’s word against the other) and avoiding the situation entirely is usually the best bet.

The first step in avoiding being the owner of a dog who bites people is, of course, training. The better trained your dog is to obey your commands, the lesser the odds of them biting someone. If you’re well-versed in canine training techniques, by all means, feel free to train your dog yourself. However, if you’re the owner of a breed that has a reputation for being physical (and this is not necessarily a bad thing, guard dogs save lives), you may want to enlist the help of a certified trainer.

The second step, which in reality should happen simultaneously with the first step, is to adequately socialize your dog to be around other people and animals. A basic obedience class can go a long way to helping your animal feel more comfortable around other dogs and humans, and it can be achieved while training your pet to answer your commands.

Finally, according to the Humane Society of the United States, dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are three times more likely to bite someone than dogs that have undergone the procedure.

Dogs over the age of four months in Los Angeles County are required to be spayed or neutered unless the dog cannot be altered with a high likelihood of suffering serious bodily harm as determined by a licensed veterinarian. (Los Angeles County Code Sec. 10.20.350, et seq.)

Responsible pet parenting saves time, money and headaches.