Articles Posted in Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

800px-Ellsworth_dog_biteThe holidays are supposed to be a happy time for families and friends. The enjoyment can quickly turn to tragedy if a dog bites someone. Dog bites happen quite often and can cause serious injuries. Dog bites may happen more frequently around the holidays because of the increased number of visitors to one’s home during this time period. Dog owners must be vigilant in making sure that their dogs are kept from harming anyone.

Owners Must Control Their Dogs

Dog owners must keep their dogs under control at all times. Dog bite injuries most often occur when an animal is off-leash or is not being properly supervised. Dogs need to be on leash at all times when they are in public areas. The only exception to this rule may be when dogs and owners visit specified dog parks. These parks allow dogs to run off leash in a controlled environment. Owners are subject to the rules of the specific dog park.

dogkidLike most of you, we love dogs.  Whether pet owners themselves or just people who enjoy the sight of a happy puppy on the street, our team knows there is no love as pure as that offered by a dog.  We also know that sometimes dogs attack and that the victims of those attacks deserve justice, especially when that victim is a young child.  There are special rules for child dog bite victims in California and our San Francisco dog bite lawyer helps ensure they receive all the compensation they deserve.

Child Bitten By Dog in Pinole Home 

Last week, ABC7 News reported that a young girl was bitten in the face by a dog in a Pinole home.  The 3-year-old child was reportedly alone in a room with her uncle’s American bulldog at the time.  Contra Costa Animal Services told reporters that the child was taken Children’s Hospital in Oakland where she was treated for two one-inch facial lacerations.   Per routine practice, the animal was taken in by animal services for a 10-day quarantine period when he will be tested for rabies and his behavior will be assessed.  The owner will then be allowed to petition for the animal’s return or opt to surrender the dog.

As readers of this blog know, we are proud to serve as a dog bite law firm for Oakland, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and all of Northern California.  In today’s blog post, we look at a very specific category of dog-inflicted injuries, police dog bites.  Although police dogs can be an important and justified law enforcement tool, there are times when police dogs attack the wrong person or are not trained in a proper manner causing undue injury to their victims.

Hayward Settles Claim Involving Use of Police Dog

The Oakland Tribune announced this week that the city of Hayward has entered into a settlement in a lawsuit involving a police dog that inflicted serious injuries on a man.  According to his Complaint, in March 2014 the man had been seated in his car in the driveway at his workplace when a police car pulled up next to him.  After shining a light into his vehicle, again per the man’s claims, an officer handcuffed the man while another officer held him down with a knee to his back.  The man alleged that the police then released a dog which tore at him inflicting serious injury to his arm and chin.  The city agreed to pay the man $45,000 to dismiss the claim, but declined to issue any further comments on the matter.

People with pets understand that dogs are family.  A dog can be a longtime companion and confidant, a true ally who is always on your side.  Sadly, however, sometimes we are reminded that dogs are indeed animals.  As a San Francisco/Oakland dog bite lawyer, Attorney Brod helps people who are injured or who lose a loved one after a mauling or other form of animal attack.  Dog bites are an emotionally charged topic for any animal lover, but ultimately we believe that people must be held responsible for the acts of their animals.  California dog bite law agrees.

Dogs Fatally Attack 9-Year-Old Boy

NBC Bay Area recently reported on the tragic death of a 9-year-old boy who was mauled to death by three pit bulls on Sunday.  Yuba County Sherriff’s Department officials told reporters that the child’s 24-year-old guardian left the boy alone in the Linda, California mobile home with her three pit bulls when she went to work.  The woman returned three hours later to find the child had been mauled by the animals.  The boy was taken to a hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.  Animal Care Services denies having any history with the animals, but took possession of them in the wake of the attack.

While it may come as a surprise to some, California currently bans dogs and other animals from all restaurants, inside or out. Of course, this ban has long been ignored by many restaurants and their patrons, and it is not uncommon to see dogs-both big and little-resting alongside their owners at many San Francisco area restaurants. However, as of January 1, 2015, California pooches will be legally allowed to visit outdoor areas if certain conditions are met.

Governor Brown Signs Law Allowing Dogs To Legally Be Present On Outdoor Patios

On August 21st, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1965, which gives restaurants the option to allow pet dogs in their outdoor seating areas under specified conditions unless a local ordinance determines otherwise.

The old adage that a dog is man’s best friend was most decidedly not the case Tuesday at one particular residence in Bakersfield, California, that has become well-known in the viral community for the heroics of a family house cat that came to the rescue of a boy attacked by a neighbor’s dog, all of which was captured on film. And San Francisco dog-bite attorney Gregory J. Brod would cite the amazing bravery of a boy’s best friend as not only as a teachable moment on the surprising abilities of the felines that live with us in our communities but also a “purrfect” opportunity to review the applicable dog-bite statue in California.

 

 

According to KERO-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Bakersfield, a 4-year-old boy named Jeremy Triantafilo was playing on his bicycle in the driveway of his family’s house when an 8-month-old labrador/chow mix owned by a neighbor sneaks around the family’s parked car, bites him in the leg and starts to drag the boy away. However, no sooner did the dog attack Jeremy, who has mild autism, than the family’s cat, Tara, swooped in to confront the much bigger dog, rushing it and chasing the startled canine away.

Feline’s Heroics Likely Saved Boy from Worse Injuries
The heart-warming heroics of Tara were captured on a surveillance video taken by Jeremy’s father, Roger, and the now world-famous feline probably helped save Jeremy from more serious injuries than those he sustained that have required a few stitches. Not surprisingly, Tara is one fat cat with a some major admirers.

“Tara is my hero,” said Jeremy of the family black-and-gray tortoiseshell cat, who became a part of the Triantafilo family in 2008.

The dog that attacked Jeremy is now under voluntary observation at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center and, according to police, will be quarantined for 10 days before being euthanized. The dog escaped from the neighbor’s property when the neighbor was pulling their vehicle out of their gated driveway. After the dog’s escape, the neighbor called 911 on behalf of the boy and his mother, Erica, who was nearby watering a tree when she heard Jeremy’s screams.

California Maintains More Expansive View of Liability in Dog-Bite Cases
In almost every state a guiding principle for liability in dog-bite cases is the so-called vicious propensity rule, in which owners of domestic animals that display vicious propensities, such as a dog snarling or growling, are strictly liable for any injuries the animal may inflict. However, in California, strict liability is imposed for dogs with no known vicious propensities, as detailed in California Civil Code 3342 (a):

The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness or the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

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Dogs are often praised for their loyal and obedient temperament. People invest time and money trying to teach their dogs how to be well behaved. However, sometimes these attempts can be futile and a seemingly sweet dog can turn into a vicious perpetrator. As experienced attorneys in dog bite cases, our San Francisco personal injury firm knows firsthand what can happen when a dog causes injuries to an unsuspecting victim. In California, a dog owner is expected to take responsibility for their dog’s actions. According to the California Civil Code 3342, “the owner of a dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place.” Typically when a dog bites a victim, it is to the owner’s shame and disbelief. But what happens when a dog attacks a victim because its owner gave the command?

Woman Attacked by Pit Bull Under Unusual Circumstances

According to Inside Bay Area, a 22-year-old woman was attacked by a pit bull in Berkeley last Sunday. What makes this news story different from most dog bite stories is that the owner of the pit bull gave the dog a command, instructing him to attack the woman. The pit bull bit the woman on the arm and she was treated at Berkley Hospital. It is undisputed that the owner of the dog will be held liable for the injury caused by the pit bull. However, because the owner ordered the pit bull to attack she may be entitled to more than just the typical compensation awarded to dog bite victims.

As we prepared today’s blog post, one that starts with a news story that we don’t see every day, we had two primary thoughts: 1) Some things happen more often than you’d think and 2) Even less-than-common legal matters rely on common legal concepts. We’ve written about dog bites previously, but there are a range of other injuries caused by animals. Our San Francisco injury lawyer is prepared to hold animal owners responsible for these incidents using the same legal concepts we use to help many of our deserving clients.

A Look at Circus Animals and Injuries After Elephants Escape Circus Handlers in Missouri

elephant.jpgOver the weekend, The San Francisco Chronicle’s website carried a story from the St. Louis, Missouri that could have taken a much more tragic turn. According to local news authorities, three elephants escaped from the St. Charles Family Arena which was hosting the Moolah Shrine Circus. The three female elephants, which were part of a children’s ride at the event, caused damage to several cars and a loading door when they got away from their handlers. Thankfully, the handlers were able to distract and recapture the elephants before they caused injury to themselves or the gathered crowd.

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We like to think of dogs as “man’s best friend,” and the vast majority of canines are an abiding source of companionship, protection and satisfaction for millions of Americans. However, as a few notorious incidents have demonstrated over the years, some four-legged bad actors have managed to grab the spotlight and give dogs, particularly certain breeds, a reputation for dangerous aggressiveness in dog attacks.

The circumstances where the latter, more hostile tendency comes into play were put on troubling display last month when a 10-year-old Martinez boy was seriously injured by two pit bulls that repeatedly bit him. A report in the Contra Costa Times has shed some new light on the case of Hunter Kilbourn, the injured boy, revealing that an Antioch city staff investigation showed that a second boy was bitten in the same attack in which Kilbourn was mauled. According to the report, a boy at the residence where Kilbourn was playing was bitten by the household dogs when he attempted to pull one of the dogs off Kilbourn. The city report went on to recommend that the two dogs be euthanized.

Dog Bite Incidents Not Uncommon in the United States
Fortunately, Kilbourn has recovered from a majority of the physical injuries he suffered in the Aug. 11 dog attack, but as statistics show, dog bite incidents are a fairly common occurrence in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites, with half of those dog bite victims being children. Of those who are injured in dog bites every year, 386,000 require emergency department treatment and about another 16 die.

While one might consider pit bulls as the most likely suspects in dog bite attacks, it might surprise the public to know that studies have not shown the breed to be disproportionately dangerous. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, controlled studies have found pit bulls to among several breeds, including German shepherds, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Jack Russell Terriers, mixed breeds and others that are highly represented in biting incidents in the United States. However, pit bull-type dogs are more frequently associated with cases in which there has been a severe injury or fatality. But even here the AVMA issues a caveat, saying that the phenomenon may be due to such factors as the popularity of pit bulls in the victim’s community, reporting biases and the dog’s treatment by its owner – for example, cases where pit bulls are used as fighting dogs. Indeed, controlled studies also point out that the pit bull owner’s own behavior, i.e., criminal and/or violent acts, may be an underlying causal factor behind severe or fatal attacks on humans by pit bulls. And to place the point in a geographic perspective, it should be noted that fatalities due to dog attacks in some parts of Canada are linked mainly to sled dogs and Siberian Huskies, breeds that are much more prevalent in some regions of our neighbor to the north.

California Law Specific on Dog Attack Liability
Regardless of the breed of dog involved in an attack upon a human, California law is pretty straightforward when it comes to liability. As stated in California Civil Code Section 3342, “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
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In the end, the law is an attempt to enforce some of the same basic concepts that lend truth to the maxim that we learn all the really important lessons in kindergarten. One of these basic concepts is responsibility. It is both a simple concept, asking people to account for the results of their choices, and a complex one, giving rise to protracted lawsuits attempting to assign responsibility after a tragic event. For example, who is responsible when a pet attacks? This debate gives rise to protracted litigation in criminal courts, but a blanket rule on civil liability helps avoid this difficult process. By assigning responsibility to pet owners via a strict liability framework, the civil dog bite law helps our San Francisco dog bite injury law firm get justice for those injured by domestic animals.

Criminal Court Considers Charges in Mauling Death of Toddler Under Grandfather’s Care

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle delved into a pending case in Contra Costa County and the difficulty of determining whether a pet owner bears criminal responsibility for the animal’s acts. Fifty-five year old Steve Hayashi is currently on trial and facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment related to the death of his step-grandson. On July 22, 2010, Hayashi was caring for two year old Jacob Bisbee while his wife slept. He decided to go play tennis, leaving the toddler and his four year old brother unsupervised. Jacob wandered through an unlocked door into a garage area where three of Hayashi’s five pit bulls were located. On a 911 tape recorded some time later, Hayashi’s wife is screaming as she confirms the boy is no longer breathing, having been mauled to death by the animals.