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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Feb 2, 2015

This could be a very tense moment for both you and the person your dog bites, and your first reaction might be to panic.  However, if your dog takes a bite out of someone, you need to take quick action.  Here are the steps to take to protect your dog and help the bite victim:

  1. Confine your dog to a crate or another room, or otherwise remove your dog from the situation.

  2. Help the ite victim wash the wound thoroughly with warm, soapy water.

  3. Be courteous and sympathetic to the bite victim. Avoid laying blame or getting defensive. Remember that what you say may be used against you later if legal or civil action is taken.

  4. Contact a medical professional for the bite victim. Depending on the severity of the bite, an ambulance may be needed.

  5. Exchange contact information with the victim. Provide your insurance information, if applicable.

  6. If there were witnesses, obtain their contact information.

  7. Contact your veterinarian and obtain your dog’s medical records.

  8. Inform local authorities of the incident and comply with their orders.

The Laws

Many states, have a “one free bite” rule, which allows dog owners to avoid liability for the first incident, but Arizona is NOT one of them.  In fact, Arizona imposes strict liability on the owner of a dog that bites a victim.  When a dog bite causes injuries, the dog bite victim may choose to press charges and/or file a civil suit against you. In these cases, you should immediately hire an attorney.

While you may or may not be legally ordered to cover the victim’s medical expenses, it is a good idea to offer up front to pay.  This will help ease the tension and protect your dog’s life.

The following conditions typically apply in dog bite cases:

  • You will need to show proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination history.

  • A quarantine period may be required. This will be longer if the rabies vaccine is not current.

  • Depending on the situation and your dog’s history, it is possible for your dog to be designated a “dangerous dog.” You may have to comply with specific laws regarding the handling of your dog.

  • Laws may require that your dog is euthanized if your dog is considered “dangerous,” if the injury was very serious, or if a fatality occurred. In addition, you could be held legally responsible and face criminal charges.