Do Dogs Who Bite People Have to Get Euthanized in Arizona?
Every year in the U.S., more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). More than 800,000 of the people who are bitten need medical treatment for their injuries. At least half of the people bitten are children.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you may hesitate to report the incident for fear that the dog will be put down. If this is the case, put your mind at ease. In most cases, animal control in Arizona will not euthanize a dog for biting someone unless the circumstances are extreme.
What Happens After a Dog Bites a Person?
- A dog victim must report the incident before an investigation is begun. Authorities do not usually start investigations based on hospital records. There must be a report from the victim as to what occurred, when, and where.
- A thorough investigation is conducted, usually by specially trained animal control agents. They begin by asking all parties involved what occurred. Interviews are conducted with the person who was bitten, the dog’s owner, and any eyewitnesses to the incident.
- If the dog is a stray, investigators will ask questions to help them locate the animal. If it cannot be located within a short period of time, typically 12 hours, the victim may need to receive rabies treatment in case he or she has contracted the disease.
- If the dog is with its owner, investigators will check to see if the animal’s rabies vaccinations are up to date. They will also look for any prior incidents when the dog has bitten a person. With two or more attacks on a person, a dog could be deemed a habitual offender, which investigators consider a more serious situation.
- If it is the first time the dog has bitten anyone and the dog does not show aggressive behavior when investigators come around, it may be treated as a one-time occurrence that requires no further investigation.
- Dog owners are likely to have additional requirements placed on them to ensure no one else is bitten. The dog may not be allowed off a leash or beyond a fenced yard, or it may be required to wear a muzzle when in contact with people or other dogs. Animal control may require that the dog be observed by an animal behavioral specialist to ensure no suspicious behavior manifests.
When Is a Dog Euthanized After It Bites Someone?
Dogs rarely have to be put down because of biting someone. Euthanasia usually only occurs under the following specific circumstances:
- The dog has bitten frequently (which can be as little as two times).
- The dog demonstrates extremely aggressive behavior during the investigation.
- The dog is ill or has been injured and investigators conclude that the illness or injury is causing its aggressive behavior and putting the dog down is the best option.
What Can Your Attorney Do to Help?
Arizona has strict liability laws concerning dog bites. A dog’s owner is liable for any damages the dog causes. If you or your child has been attacked by a dog, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You may have a claim for compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you are concerned for the welfare of the dog that bit you, ask your attorney to relay your wishes to the proper authorities that the dog not be euthanized. Contact The Husband & Wife Law Team at (602) 457-6222.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer