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Dog Bite Safety

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Dogs can be our closest companions.  They have been proven to decrease stress and increase our exercise levels, but sometimes a man’s best friend will bite.  Some of our clients have suffered serious bite wounds from dogs.  In addition to causing pain, injury, scarring or nerve damage, dog bites can lead to anxiety, depression, and a fear of being close to another dog, including your own.  It is important to understand that not every dog is safe to be around.  In fact, according to the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year.

Dog Safety

Although the idea of being bitten by a dog is scary, there are several precautions you can take in order to feel comfortable around dogs.  Below are some tips from the ASPCA that will help you, your friends, and especially your children from being attacked by a dog.

  • When meeting an unfamiliar dog, don’t reach out to pet until you have been given permission that it is safe to do so.

  • After you receive permission to pet a dog, let it sniff your hand. Then, you may proceed to pet its shoulders or chest. Avoid petting the top of the dog’s head.

  • Do not touch an unknown dog that is sleeping, eating, or chewing a toy.

  • Stay away from a dog that is barking or growling because those are signs of aggression and fear.

  • If an unknown dog approaches you, do not make eye contact with it, stay quiet and still. Do not run or scream.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

In the event that you are bitten by a dog, below are a few steps you should take:

  • Get medical care. Make sure that you get the treatment you need to help with your injuries.

  • Check the dog for rabies. In most counties, including Brazos county, you need to call animal control, and they will take care of it.

  • Get information about the dog owner. At a minimum, you want the owner’s name and address, but the more information you can get, the better.

  • Take pictures of your injuries as you go along. Pictures are critical to show insurance adjusters or a jury your injuries.

Texas Dog Bite Law

Texas is considered a “one bite” or a “negligence” state.  This means that in order to recover damages after a dog bite under Texas law, you will have to show either that the owner knew the dog was aggressive or had previously been deemed a “dangerous dog,” or you will have to show that the owner’s negligence in failing to restrain or watch the dog led to the bite.  Under Texas Health and Safety Code, section 822.041, a “dangerous dog” is one that attacks a person unprovoked outside of its enclosure that causes bodily injury or is aggressive to such an extent that its actions cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury.  In Brazos county when an individual knows that they have a dangerous dog, they are required to:

  • Register the dog with the local animal control office within 30 days;

  • Properly restrain or enclose the dog so that it is unable to escape, and so that the general public would not be able to enter its enclosure; and

  • Obtain liability insurance of at least $100,000 to cover any personal injuries caused by a dog attack.

Within Bryan and College Station, dogs must be on a leash when they are off their owner’s property, excluding designated dog parks.  Also, any person who has knowledge of a bite or scratch to a human that breaks the skin must report the incident to Animal Control within 24 hours of the incident.  In addition, pets within the city limits are to be registered with the city, and current rabies vaccinations are required at the time of registration.  These ordinances are in place to limit the chances of someone getting bitten by a dog, but they also help offer protection to someone who has been bitten, so it is important to abide by these guidelines.

Defense to Dog Bite Liability

A dog owner in Texas typically has two defenses against a dog bite claim:  lack of knowledge and trespassing.  Because Texas dog bite law requires that an owner have knowledge that the dog has bitten before or has shown aggressive tendencies, an owner may not be liable for a dog bite if the owner can show he or she had no knowledge of the dog’s tendencies.  For instance, if a previously calm and friendly dog suddenly bites a passing pedestrian, the owner may be able to escape liability by showing the dog had not shown signs of aggression before. Finally, Texas dog bite laws do not apply to trespassers, so if a person is bitten while unlawfully on the private property of another, the dog’s owner likely won’t be liable for the bite.

Call Paradowski Law at (855) 524-2976 and Get What You Deserve.

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