A local trial here in Orange County is raising the debate, once again, among dog owners and their responsibilities. In this case, a woman in Westminster faces up to one year in jail for her pit bulls aggressive behavior and personal injury attack on a postal carrier. The women had a long history of keeping aggressive animals. In fact just last June, another one of her dogs just attacked a visitor in her home. When do the rights of a dog owner supersede the rights of a person not to be attacked in a home, neighborhood and park? How often do we need to hear that a pit bull is a great pet dog for children?
Every 40 seconds in the United States someone seeks medical attention for a dog bite. Of the 4.7 million people afflicted by dog bites each year, about 800,000 needs to seek professional medical attention. Moreover, in 77% of these cases, the victims often are kids. Tragically the head and face is frequently the target, leaving damaging scars and emotional trauma, as well as personal injury.
Here in California the law is quite clear regarding liability in dog bite cases. If you are a dog owner and your dog bites someone, regardless of provocation, you are liable. As with most laws, there are some exceptions such as cases involving a trespasser or veterinarian.
If you or your child has experienced any type of personal injury in a situation involving a dog bite, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced firm such as Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie. They have previously handled many cases and have the experience to solve yours in a professional manner. California state law has special provisions for a dog bite that occurs where children under 5 are involved. Get an experienced personal injury attorney on your side!
In another case that ultimately went to the California Supreme Court, last week a Superior Court Judge charged Marjorie Knoller with murder and sentenced her to 15 years in jail. The facts of the case were very bizarre and disturbing. Ms. Knoller, the dog owner, knew her dogs were genetically predisposed to being vicious and the dogs had recently displayed violent behaviors against other neighbors. During the 10 minute incident where her neighbor was mauled to death back in 2001, she did nothing to stop her dog or call 911 for help. To make matters worse, Ms. Knoller blamed the dead women for the attack. Very disturbing indeed.
Whether you own a Presa Canarios, like in the above case or a tiny little poodle, every dog owner should know that any dog can bite in certain circumstances. Pit Bulls, Rottweiler’s, German Sheppard and Dobermans all have aggressive tendencies. In fact over 44% of all dog bites come for German Sheppard. Before purchasing a breed, make certain you know as much as you can about the dog’s behavior and make sure it fits well with your family situation.
If you have children, it’s important that they know correct behaviors if there is a dog in the household or if they encounter one in the neighborhood. A great booklet with great discussion topics for you and your family can be found at the American Veterinary Medical Association, http://www.avma.org/animal_health/brochures/dog_bite/dog_bite_brochure.asp.