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Reporting a Dog Attack: When to Report and To Whom

Posted by attorney Timothy Miley

Victims of a dog attack often sustain not only serious physical injuries, but also long-lasting psychological consequences. No matter the severity of the attack, however, victims should report the dog attack.

When and to whom should a dog attack be reported?

Anytime a dog bites and leaves a visible injury, the victim should report it. At the very least, the appropriate animal control agency should be contacted. Unfortunately, dog bite statutes in West Virginia are limited. Owner liability typically occurs only when the dog has been running at large.

However, if the dog previously bit someone or otherwise demonstrated dangerous behavior, the owner could be held liable. But if it’s never reported, it could make proving negligence a little more challenging.

It’s important to report a dog attack that causes any type of injury because owners of vicious or dangerous dogs are required to have a special license. Upon investigation, victims may discover that the owner violated one of the rules pertaining to dangerous dogs, such as ensuring it is secured properly so no one is injured.

Of course, if the dog attack results in severe or fatal injuries, it would necessitate contacting the police. The police will create a report and can attempt to locate the dog and/or its owner.

What information should I provide when reporting a dog attack?

The injured person or someone close to the victim should attempt to identify the dog and its owner. It will be important to locate that individual so appropriate steps can be taken, such as ensuring the dog received its rabies vaccination.

If possible, the injured person or a witness should give an explanation of what happened. This should include the location of the attack, what preceded it and what occurred immediately afterwards.

For instance, a victim might tell the authorities that he/she had been walking down the street and upon turning the corner, came upon a dog. The individual might have turned to run but was attacked from behind. The victim might indicate an attempt to cover his/her head with an object (such as a backpack) and that after a minute or so, the dog finally ran off.

It’s important to provide as much detail as possible. It will help determine if the injured person acted negligently or is responsible for the attack in any way (such as if the injured person provoked the dog).

What other important steps should I take after a dog attack?

In addition to reporting an attack, it is critical to receive medical attention as soon as possible. If the injuries are significant, it might necessitate emergency treatment. Be sure to keep a copy of all medical records and copies of other documents, such as a complaint filed with animal control or a police report.

If possible, take pictures of the injuries. This can help establish the severity of physical harm suffered. It may even be necessary to seek legal counsel when injuries are disabling, disfiguring or life-threatening. Call The Miley Legal Group at (304) 931-4088 to schedule a consultation with a lawyer.

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