Dog Laws

California’s Dog Bite Laws

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year. This raises the question, what happens if your dog bites someone? Will your dog be put down? The answers to these questions vary from state to state. Let’s uncover the specific dog bite laws in California. 

California Civil Code 3342

California Civil Code 3342 lays out the specific liabilities of a dog owner whose dog bites another person. According to the law, the owner of a dog is liable for damages suffered by the person, whether the dog bite occurs in a public or private place.

Additionally, the dog owner is still liable for the dog bite regardless of whether the dog had previously shown viciousness. In simple terms, this civil code explains that a dog owner is held liable for a dog bite regardless of the circumstances. This is also known as strict liability.

California Civil Code 3342.5

California Civil Code 3342.5 spells out the duties a dog owner has after their dog has bitten someone. It explains that a dog owner must take the necessary steps to remove any dangers of future dog bites. If a dog has bitten an individual on two different occasions, action can be taken against the dog owner to determine where certain conditions or circumstances have been altered in order to remove the future danger of a dog bite occuring. From there, an appropriate action plan will be made to help prevent future dog bites.

Will My Dog Have To Be Put Down?

There are three circumstances in California in which a dog who has bitten someone may be euthanized. The three scenarios are as follows:

  • The dog has rabies.
  • The dog has bitten at least two different people. 
  • The dog has bitten a person and seriously injured them, and the dog was trained to attack or fight.

What To Do After a Dog Bite

Following a dog bite, there are some important steps you need to take for the legal process. Here is what you need to do:

  • Seek medical care – Dog bites can be very serious and are very susceptible to infection. Therefore, it is important to contact a medical professional in order to receive proper treatment for the dog bite.
  • File a report – After a dog bite, it is important to file a dog bite report in order to take legal action. 
  • Collect information and gather evidence – You also want to be sure to gather any relevant information, such as about the dog and dog owner, as it will help you in your case. Additionally, you want to take photographic evidence of the injuries you sustained. 
  • Contact a lawyer – It is critical that you contact an experienced Van Nuys dog bite injury lawyer in order to bring your dog bite report to court. A lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you deserve as a result of the damages you suffered.

How to Prevent Future Dog Bites

There are some steps you can take to help ensure that your dog doesn’t bite. Here are some starting points:

  • Socialize your dog from an early age
  • Keep your dog on a leash
  • Do not leave your dog unattended
  • Warn others if you know your dog has a tendency to bite
  • Use positive reinforcement rather than punishments
  • Read your dog’s body language to gauge how they are feeling – are they anxious, scared, angry?