What Happens To a Dog After a Dog Attack in California?

Friday, October 26, 2018

California is known for its rather strict laws governing dog bites – in fact, the state’s strict liability statute itself can be a major legal disadvantage for dog owners – but how are dogs handled after they bite or attack another person?

Fact: California accounts for the biggest number of dog bite deaths compared to all other states in our nation, while pit bulls and rottweilers are considered the most dangerous dog breeds in the U.S.

With no doubt, dog bites can cause serious injuries and devastating emotional distress, which is why California has very strict dog attack laws and imposes a severe punishment for dog owners that are responsible for dog bites.

While federal and state laws exist for a reason: to protect American citizens and help victims of dog bites recover, dog owners are generally more interested in protecting their pets (and you cannot blame them for that, really). So the question “What happens to my dog after a dog bite?” is not that surprising.

That is why we invited our Ventura County dog bite attorney Jeffrey Herman to outline California’s dog bite laws regarding this issue and break down the legal process of how dog bites are handled and what happens to a dog that attacked someone.

How California court classifies dogs that bite

Let’s start with the basics. What happens when a dog does attack someone on the streets of Oxnard or in any other place across California? In a nutshell, after the attack, the local police will report the dog attack to the court. Afterward, the court will hold a hearing to determine your dog’s status (is it a potentially dangerous or vicious dog?).

If it was the first time your dog has bitten anyone in its life (or the last reported incident occurred more than 3 years ago), nothing much will happen to the dog (though you, as its owner, will still have to bear the legal responsibility and punishment for the attack).

If your dog has attacked another person or animal twice in the past 36 months (3 years) – when it did not inflict bodily injury – or your dog has caused minor or less severe injuries at least once over the same period of time, it will be classified as a “potentially dangerous” dog under California’s law.

When a dog severely injures or kills another person at least once over the 3-year period, it will be classified as a “vicious” dog. A dog gets the same status if it attacks a human being or animal more than twice or bites someone and causes severe injuries twice within the same period of time.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the hearing and/or the status of your dog, you always have a legal right to appeal the court’s decision, our Ventura County dog bite lawyer from the Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman explains.

What happens to a dog after an attack in California?

When a dog is classified as “potentially dangerous,” California’s law requires dog owners to keep the dog indoors or in a securely fenced yard at all times (the point being is that the dog cannot escape from your property and potentially harm others).

Also, whenever a dog owner of a “potentially dangerous” dog leaves his or her property, he/she is required to keep the dog leashed at all times, according to California’s dog bite laws. If there are no other dog bites or attacks for 3 years, a dog is no longer considered a “potentially dangerous” dog.

Dogs that are classified as “vicious” may “be destroyed by the animal control department,” according to Californian laws. However, the court may decide not to put down the dog, and, instead, “impose conditions upon the ownership of the dog that protects the public health, safety, and welfare.”

This is what happens to a dog in California after a dog bite, in a nutshell. Contact the Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman to find out more today. Call our offices at 805-983-2344 or fill out this contact form to get a free consultation.

The Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman has a focus on personal injury cases in other parts of California.

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