Animals can make incredible companions. Dogs especially can be incredibly supportive and positive characters to have around, helping us in many aspects of society, such as supporting those with disabilities and aiding the police force. Unfortunately, dogs are still animals that can be unpredictable. All animals, including dogs, have the ability to attack if they feel threatened. Most of the time, when dogs are pets, they will not bite, but if a dog is not properly looked after, then they have the potential to be extremely dangerous.
According to this study, 47,000 people in the United States sought medical attention after being attacked/bitten by wildlife in 2019. Florida, in particular, was found to have the third-highest rate of deaths from animal attacks between 1999 and 2019. Fortunately, Florida has laws in place to help protect victims of dog bites and help them receive compensation for their experience.
If you are looking for legal advice after an incident involving a dog bite or animal attack, then contact The Law Place today. We can put you in contact with a dedicated dog bite attorney who will take a personal approach in truly understanding your experience and providing you helpful legal advice. Call us today for a free consultation with a member of our team who has over 75 years of combined experience.
Tell us about your case today in a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Why Do Some Dogs Attack?
Dogs are normally extremely social animals and will usually avoid aggressive situations and will not attack unless provoked. Most dogs will only attack if they believe they are in a situation where there is no other option than aggression. This can be because of a sudden fright or because they haven’t be trained in a way to understand non-aggressive situations.
Some dog breeds can have a high ‘prey drive,’ which means that it is instinctive for them to bite and attack small pets or animals, especially if what they are attempting to attack is running away.
What Are the Warning Signs That a Dog Will Attack Another Dog or a Person?
It is highly unlikely that a dog will attack or bite without displaying warning signs first. These warning signs include:
- Baring teeth.
Even before displaying these signs, dogs will often show body language that signals that they feel anxious in a situation:
- Flattened ears on the head.
- Showing the whites of their eyes.
- Turning their face away.
- Licking their lips.
- Trying to move away from the other dog or animal.
- Staying low to the ground.
It is important to understand this body language so that you can diffuse a situation before injury occurs. Different dogs can display slightly different warning signs when they are anxious and when they are aggressive. This is why it is important not only to know your dog and their signs but to ask other dog owners for permission before interacting with their dog, as they know their dog’s personal warning signs better than anyone else.
What Should I Do If My Dog Attacks Another Dog?
If your dog attacks another dog, then it is important to stay as calm as possible. Whilst it is understandable that you may feel afraid or embarrassed, your agitation will only make your dog feel more uncomfortable. It is also good to positively distract your dog (e.g., calmly calling their name or using their favorite toy) from a distance. Once you have moved them away, and are in a position where you will not get bitten or attacked yourself, then get your dog back on its lead so that you can take them somewhere where the other dog is not in their vision.
In the long term, it is important to take precautions to make sure your dog does not attack again. It is a good idea to contact your vet to discover if there were any medical reasons that could explain your dog’s sudden aggression. It is also useful to work with a behaviorist to teach your dog how to cope in situations where aggression is not necessary. You may also want to look into muzzle training your dog, no matter how it behaves around other dogs.
What Should I Do if My Dog Is Attacked by Another Dog?
If your dog is attacked by another dog, even though you may be afraid, it is first important to stay calm so that you can fully focus on helping your dog. Whilst you may be tempted to physically separate your dog from the aggressive dog yourself, it is important not to do this as it may cause further injury to your dog or you. To avoid getting injured, it is best to try to distract the other dog from a distance in a way that will not startle it further. If possible, it is also useful to call your dog away and take them to safety.
Once the incident has occurred, it is extremely important that you collect the owner’s contact details and get photos of the aggressive dog and your own dog’s injuries. You will also want to find out if the other owner has pet insurance and note down the contact details of any witnesses to the incident. If your dog has been injured, it is important to report the incident to the police and take your dog to the vet, even if the injuries don’t look serious, to make sure your dog has no further injuries or infections and can get the correct treatment.
What Should I Do If My Dog Attacks Another Person?
It is important to act in a similar way as if your dog was attacking another dog: stay calm, try and distract your dog, put your dog on its leash, and take your dog and walk away from the person it is trying to attack. On top of this, it is important to try to calm the victim down and advise them of what to do if they are displaying any behavior that you know will provoke your dog to attack.
What Should I Do if I Am Attacked by a Dog?
If you are attacked by a dog, then, whilst it is understandable that you may be feeling fear, try to remain calm and work with the owners to avoid making the dog more aggressive than it already is. After you are separated from the attacking dog, slowly back away in order to try and avoid it trying to chase after you.
Once you have separated from the dog, it is important to speak to the owner and take their contact details, as well as report the bite and take pictures of the injury and the dog responsible for those injuries. It is extremely important that you thoroughly wash the injury as well, even if it looks like your skin hasn’t broken, and get medical attention as soon as is possible for you.
Tips for Preventing Your Dog From Becoming Aggressive
The best way to prevent your dog from being aggressive is through positive, reward-based training and socialization. Teaching your dog good behavior, especially as a puppy, is the best long-term solution to avoiding them becoming aggressive when confronted with other dogs or people and making attacks less likely.
In terms of short-term solutions, keeping your dog on a lead in unfamiliar places and around other dogs allows you to keep a close eye on your dog and help to prevent it from getting into potentially dangerous situations. If you spot your dog or another dog showing signs of anxiety or aggression whilst you are walking your dog, then move your dog away from the situation immediately, no matter whether the aggression is directed against your dog or not.
What Are the Legal Implications of a Dog Attack?
Fortunately for those involved in incidents involving dangerous dogs, there are Florida statutes that cover dangerous dog and dog bite laws. This means that if you or your dog are bitten by another dog, then you can get compensation for your experience.
How Does the Law Define a ‘Dangerous Dog’?
Florida Statute 767.11 defines a ‘dangerous dog’ as any dog that has:
- Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or has inflicted severe injury on a person on public or private property.
- More than once, severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property.
- When unprovoked, the dog chased or approached a person on any public grounds in a menacing way or with the intention to attack, as long as those actions were witnessed. This should then be investigated by the appropriate authority.
According to Florida Statute 767.12, a dog may not be declared dangerous if:
- The threat, injury, or damage occurred when the injured person was unlawfully on the property or, if lawfully on the property, was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or its owner or a family member.
- The dog was protecting or defending a person in the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault.
What Are the Legal Responsibilities of a Dangerous Dog Owner?
Dangerous dog owners are legally responsible for the actions of their pets if they do not take sufficient precautions. Dangerous dog owners must register their dogs with the state and, if not impounded with the animal control authority, they must confine their dogs within a secure fence or otherwise enclosed area.
If the dangerous dog is taken outside of this enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash. The muzzle must not restrict the dog’s vision or respiration or cause injury but must prevent the dog from biting a person or animal.
If the dog is loose or unconfined, has bitten or attacked a person or animal, is sold or given away, dies, or is moved to another address, the owner must immediately notify the appropriate animal control authority.
What Are the Potential Punishments for Owning a Dangerous Dog?
If a dangerous dog is found to be in violation of Florida’s dangerous dog laws, you can be fined up to $500. This is a civil penalty, but the owner will also face criminal charges and a fine of up to $1,000 if the ‘dangerous dog’ attacks or bites a domestic animal or person without provocation. If this injury is severe or the attack causes death, then the owner will be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and a potential prison sentence of up to five years.
What Compensation Can I Claim If My Dog or I Have Been Injured by a Dangerous Dog?
Dog attacks, whether on you or your dog, invoke a lot of physical or emotional trauma and can have a significant effect on your life. Even if you have not been injured, it can be hugely upsetting to see a beloved pet get hurt. There are several types of damages that you can be claimed after dog bites occur to help you and your dog recover:
- Medical bills – You are likely going to incur medical bills if you or your dog has been injured by another dog. These bills can pile up through potential surgeries, rehabilitation, and medication, so it is important that you get these costs, which are not your fault, compensated.
- Wrongful death – If a loved one has died through someone acting unlawfully, such as by not properly enclosing their dangerous dog, they may be liable for this wrongful death, from which you can obtain further compensation.
- Lost wages – If your physical or emotional trauma has prevented you from working, then you can be compensated for your lost earnings.
- Pain and suffering – Through this category, you can be compensated for the emotional distress that has been caused by the attack.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you, your dog, or a loved one have been a victim of a dog bite or animal attack, then contact The Law Place today. We can provide you with a free consultation with one of our dedicated attorneys who will help you to understand how to bring a successful lawsuit. It is important that you receive the compensation that you deserve in order to make a full recovery from your experience.
To book your free consultation, contact The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444.