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The Animal Law Firm

Important Steps to Take If Your Dog Is Responsible for a Dog Attack

Your dog is likely one of your best friends, and you love your pet dearly. But what do you do when your dog hurts someone in a Colorado dog attack? It’s a thought that most dog owners don’t want to consider, but it’s one that you should prepare for to protect yourself and your pet if one of these accidents ever arises. If you have a dog that is responsible for an attack, there are essential steps to take to protect you and your pet in the state of Colorado.

What Classifies As a Dog Attack?

What could be considered a dog attack is a question that can be open to interpretation. Most of the time, people don’t classify their pets running up to someone to give them a friendly “hello” as an attack. Other times, dogs are known for being more aggressive than this. When it comes to the law, it’s usually physical contact that causes legal action. Dog attacks are often identified as incidents where a canine inflicts severe harm or death on another person and requires a response from authorities.

For example, if your dog bites someone and breaks their skin, even if it’s just a small scratch, you could be held accountable for the attack. However, being able to prove that your dog was provoked, which is often the case in these types of situations, could help protect you from more significant legal ramifications.

Why Would My Dog Attack Someone Else?

Dog attacks can be a bit more complicated than they seem. While it may appear that your dog was viciously trying to attack someone else, the problem could be with its training. For example, some dogs are more territorial than others, and they don’t like it when people come onto their property in a threatening way. This could cause your dog to act defensively toward someone who did not know they were invading any territory.

In other cases, it could be a simple misunderstanding between your dog and the victim. For example, if you’ve ever taken your pet to the dog park, you know just how crowded it can be. In most cases, dogs are simply trying to establish dominance and can be easily calmed down with a stern “no” from their owners.

Common Signs of an Aggressive Dog

It’s important to know the signs of an aggressive dog so that you can prevent incidents before they happen. If your pet is acting differently than usual, you should pay attention to its behavior. Some signs of an aggressive dog include:

  • Barking incessantly when other people or animals are around.
  • Growling at another pet, especially if they are not a threat.
  • Refusal to obey commands from their owner.
  • Body hair that is raised
  • A stiff and tense body pose

These are just a few of the signs that your pet may be acting aggressively or will attack soon. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s essential to speak with your veterinarian about the problem to resolve any behavioral issues.

How to Prevent Dog Attacks

If you want to prevent your dog from attacking anyone else, you need to focus on training. It’s not enough to train your pet for fundamental commands like sit and stay. Instead, you need to go the extra mile and use positive reinforcement techniques proven effective with most breeds.

You can also keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date, which will ensure they are not at risk of contracting an illness and further harming another if there is an incident. You also need to make sure your dog has plenty of exercise, so the animal is not likely to act aggressively due to excess energy in situations where other people or animals are around.

Even with the best training, however, some dogs have an innate tendency to attack other animals or people. While the state used to ban some breeds as being more dangerous than others, these restrictions have since been relaxed. If you know for a fact that your pet is likely to act aggressively toward other people, you should keep your pet in an area where it cannot gain free-range access to the outdoors and keep a tight leash when walking in public.

My Dog Just Attacked Someone. Now What?

Unfortunately, even the most well-trained dog may act aggressively toward other people at some point. If this happens to you, it’s important to remain calm and not make the situation worse. Most victims of dog attacks can recover from their injuries with proper after-care.

Don’t Panic

First of all, don’t panic. You must stay calm and try to assess the situation. It’s possible that your dog didn’t mean anything by it, so take a moment to evaluate what happened before you jump to conclusions. For example, if your dog was playing with another person or animal, it may have gotten too rough and accidentally hurt them. It’s natural for dogs to be excited, especially when they are around other people or animals they like playing with. However, they can get carried away pretty easily.

Assess the Situation

When a dog attack happens, the first thing to do is assess the situation and make sure that everyone in the area can get medical attention if necessary. If it’s clear that no one needs medical attention, you should contact animal control or local authorities for assistance. Take pictures of the injuries if you can and give a complete statement to law enforcement about what happened.

Take Responsibility

If your dog was responsible for an attack on someone, you need to be honest and take responsibility for the situation. If you think that your pet may have been provoked, let authorities know what happened. Dogs injure many people each year that have been provoked in some way before the attack happens, and you need to provide law enforcement with as much information about the incident as possible.

Contact Your Vet

In addition, contact your dog’s veterinarian to inform them of the situation and ask if it would be a good idea to have your pet evaluated. The veterinarian may need to do some tests or refer you to a specialist if they believe your dog is likely to act aggressively in the future.

If you think that your pet’s behavior may result from illness, let the veterinarian know right away. If they believe that there may be an illness causing the aggression, they may prescribe medications that can help your dog feel better.

Depending on what happened, your dog may need to be quarantined for some time.  Colorado requires owners of dogs who have attacked people to quarantine their pets for ten days after an incident. This can be hard on both you and your dog, especially if it’s the first time they’ve ever acted aggressively. However, quarantining your pet will allow them to recover from any injuries they received during the attack while also providing law enforcement with time to investigate what happened.

By being honest and cooperative with authorities, you will ensure that your pet gets any care it needs, and you will also show that you are willing to do what it takes to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Contact an Animal Law Attorney

As a responsible dog owner, you should also consider contacting an attorney who specializes in animal law to handle the case of a dog attack. It may not be something you want to consider, but it’s an essential step in protecting yourself and your pet from any further consequences of the attack.

The sooner you contact law enforcement, animal control, and your veterinarian, the better off you’ll be in terms of protecting yourself from liability and assuring that your dog is okay.

Do Dog Bites Have to Be Reported in Colorado?

Yes, dog bites must be reported, as indicated by the dog bite statute of Colorado. As soon as you can, you should call animal protection to report the incident.

Dog bites that must be reported include:

  • Any bite or scratch by a dog, regardless of severity.
  • Any injury resulting from a fight between two or more dogs.
  • Any injury inflicted by an unconfined dog upon a person, another animal, or property.
  • Any injury to a guide dog, signal dog, service dog, police K9 dog, or search and rescue dog.
  • Any injury to any person while lawfully engaged in hunting, ranching, farming, or other agricultural pursuits on private or public land.

Who Is at Fault in a Dog Attack?

The owner of the dog is liable for damages. This liability may extend to injuries caused by their own dog. However, it could also be for injuries caused by a dog that belongs to someone else if the dog owner knows or has reason to know that their dog is prone to be aggressive and left in another’s care.

What Damages Could Be Covered to the Dog Bite Victim?

The victim of a dog attack may have grounds for filing a negligence lawsuit against the owner for damages, including medical expenses and lost wages. The number of damages can vary depending on the severity of injuries. They include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Permanent disability or loss of use of limbs/joints
  • Loss of companionship/society
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage (cost to repair/replace clothes, shoes, or other items that were damaged during dog attack).

Are There Criminal Charges for Dog Bite?

Yes, a dog owner may face criminal charges for a dog bite. Depending on the severity of injuries, a person at fault may be charged with a simple fine up all the way up to prison time. In addition to paying a fine, you may have to agree to certain conditions, such as:

  • Having the dog properly identified with a tattoo or microchip.
  • Keeping it on a leash and muzzle when not in your home.
  • Posting signs on your property warning others about the presence of a dangerous dog on your premises.
  • Euthanizing the dog.

In Colorado, you can be charged for owning a dangerous dog, especially if you had knowledge or had been warned prior.

How Long Is There To File A Personal Injury Case for Dog Bite?

There are strict time limitations to filing a personal injury case for a dog bite. For example, in Colorado, a person has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. After that, the person loses the right to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog.

Are Dogs Ever Put Down for Engaging in a Dog Attack?

Yes, dogs that have been deemed “dangerous” by the courts may be ordered to be euthanized. This is based on a strict liability statute that states that any dog (regardless of whether the owner knew or had reason to know of its aggressive behavior) is liable for injuries caused by the dog if a person is bitten. While this is on the rare side, it does happen.

Should I Get a Lawyer If My Dog Is Responsible for an Attack?

Yes, you should get a lawyer if your dog is responsible for an attack. Our firm serves many cities in Colorado, and we are available to help with your personal injury case if your dog is responsible for an attack. A personal injury attorney will:

  • Identify all necessary evidence to prove your case.
  • Make sure that the insurance company doesn’t try to make a case against you.
  • Ensure that your case is handled by competent professionals such as doctors and private investigators to make sure your case is successful.

If you are in Colorado and your dog bites someone, the law requires that you report the incident. The victim of a dog attack may have grounds for filing a negligence lawsuit against the owner for damages, including medical expenses and lost wages. If all this sounds intimidating and you want help enacting these principles, let us know. Our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you to protect you from the expenses of a dog attack and ensure that you get the justice that is owed to you. Get in touch with us online.

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