Dog owners have a legal responsibility to keep their dogs under proper control. If they don’t, they may be liable for damages and their dogs may be ordered destroyed.
In Alberta, the Dangerous Dogs Act gives courts the authority to order a dog destroyed if it’s deemed to be dangerous. A court can make this order even if the dog has never actually bitten anyone.
Despite such legislation, reports of dog bite injuries are increasing in many communities. In Calgary, for example, there were 58 dog attacks reported in 2009, 102 in 2010, 127 in 2011, and 201 in 2012.
This increase in dog bite reports might be largely due to public education efforts, according to some reports. There is growing awareness of the importance of reporting aggressive animals.
What should you do if you are bitten or threatened by a dog? You should report it to your community’s bylaw services. In Calgary, you would call 3-1-1 to report the incident to Animal and Bylaw Services.
Be prepared to provide the following information:
• Your name and contact information
• The date, time and location of the incident
• The current location of the dog, if possible
• Details of the incident
• Contact information for any witnesses
• A description of the dog (breed, size, colour)
• Name of owner or handler, if known
In the case of a serious dog bite, wash the wound with soap and water, and seek medical attention. Then contact a personal injury lawyer. A serious bite involves punctured skin, stitches or other lasting injury.
You can increase your chances of a successful claim by taking pictures of injuries as soon as possible after the incident. If possible, take a photo of the aggressive dog as well as the surrounding area.
Do your best to get the name of the dog’s owner or handler, especially if you’re in a public place and don’t know where the dog resides. You can’t pursue a claim if you don’t know whose dog bit you.
Most dog bite injuries are covered by homeowner’s insurance (even if the bite occurs away from the home). Your personal injury lawyer will therefore probably seek damages from the dog owner’s insurance company.
The responsibility for dog owners is clear. If you are injured by a dog bite and follow the above suggestions, you have a good chance of a successful claim.