Holidays and Pets: What To Watch

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The holidays bring about unexpected activity for pets and their owners, especially for those who travel with dogs or visit homes with dogs. Extra activity can make pets anxious. In the past, we’ve talked about what you can do if you, your child or someone you know has been bitten by a dog. There are steps to take, and actions to avoid when encountering dogs who may feel threatened. Generally, we think a dog bite occurs to someone who is passing by a dog on the sidewalk, or petting a dog in someone’s home. What we don’t often think about are dog bites that occur when we’re on a bike, scooter or horse.

Local, county and state laws will dictate definitions and penalties for dog bites. Some states have a one-bite rule, meaning that the first bite is a “free pass” until the dog bites again. Other states have a “no free bite” rule meaning that the first bite is as serious as the next. Authorities have to see if the dog has a proven history of dog bites. Others define a dog at large, which generally means a dog that is not on a leash and not in a closed barrier. Dogs will attack when provoked, but what if they attack for no apparent reason? The dog owners will almost always argue that the dog was provoked by the victim.

When we think of dog bites, we think of someone who has been bitten by a loose dog. But, dogs often attack those who are on bikes, scooters, or horses, as well. In a recent case in South Carolina, a 65-year old woman was bitten by a dog when the dog lunged at her as she cycled on her bike. The dog bit the frame of the bike, causing the woman to fall, and then proceeded to bite the woman. In Arizona, a rider of a horse entered a stretch of trail that was located adjacent to someone’s home where the dogs were running loose, The dogs spooked the horse, who took off and threw the rider. Still, other dogs, attack children on scooters, trikes and other moving toys.

If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important find out the rules and regulations for issues such as keeping pets, dogs at large, strict liability, and dog bite rules. Sifting through the material can be daunting and overwhelming if you’re not sure where to begin. Your attorney who handles personal injury cases is kept up to date on laws and rules regarding dog bites, and compensation for dog bite victims. Be sure to have a decent accounting of what occurred, including time of day, any witnesses, any unusual circumstances, and whether or not you know of any history that the dog has in the past with running loose or biting others. Photographs always add credibility to a case if you are able to take some photos o the dog, the neighborhood, damage to your bike, and injuries sustained upon your person.

Finding the right attorney can help you accelerate the process to finding closure when you or someone you know has been bitten or attacked by a dog.