what happens to a dog that attacks someone

Being attacked by a dog is a horrible and frightening experience.  Unfortunately, it is very common. 

In fact, according to one article, a State Farm agent was quoted as saying the insurance company paid out more than $104 million in dog-bite liability claims last year.  Who is responsible and how much compensation is the injured party entitled to, are very common questions. 

But, what happens to a dog that attacks someone?  Is the dog automatically “put down” or euthanized?

What happens to the dog?

The actions that will be taken with regard to the dog that attacked depend on the laws of your state.  Typically, dog owners are required to report the attack to the local police department, at the very least.  The dog is then placed on a list of “dangerous dogs” or “potentially dangerous dogs.”   This is so that, if that particular dog attacks again, there will be a record of previous incidents.  In some states, liability depends at least in part on the owner’s knowledge that the dog has a propensity to attack.  In more severe cases, when the dog is clearly a threat to people or other animals, some states allow the local authorities to impound the dog and, in some cases, put it down.

Why are some dogs dangerous?

It is true that there are certain breeds of dogs whose ancestry is known for fighting or protection. Historically, some aggressive traits were accepted, or even desired, because of the breeds’ usefulness as hunters or herders.  On the other hand, some undesirable traits seen in dogs may be the result of irresponsible breeding.  Bad breeding practices can potentially pass on a genetic predisposition towards aggression.

Unfortunately, aggression in dogs can also come from breeders who intentionally breed dogs for the specific purpose of fighting. As well as those owners who are cruel to their dogs, chaining them up and neglecting them, which further leads to aggression and other dangerous traits.

Common dog breeds that are considered dangerous

There are many people that have the opinion that certain breeds of dogs are categorically dangerous.  The common belief is that pit bull terriers, the fighting breeds, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids, are among the most dangerous breeds of dog.  Pit bulls have the worst reputation for violence and aggression.  Pit bulls can be very dangerous in certain situations because, unlike other breeds, pit bulls do not tend to communicate their intentions.  Also, the way they bite, by holding and shaking their victims, makes them lethal in an attack.

Who is responsible for a dog attack?

When it comes to liability for dog bite injuries, each state has established its own laws.  There are essentially two theories of liability imposed for dog bites, each based on the dog owner’s knowledge that the dog has the propensity to be aggressive or attack.  The more lenient rule is known as the “one bite” law.  The much stricter law imposes liability, regardless of whether the owner was on notice that the dog might bite.  Most states, including Missouri, have adopted the “strict liability” approach to dog bite liability.

If you have questions regarding dog bites, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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