What is Animal Control’s Dog Bite Procedure?


Wondering about where to report a dog attack or whether you need a tetanus shot for a dog bite? If you’ve just been through this painful event, it’s difficult to know how to handle it. From potentially filing a suit to reporting and taking care of the injury, there’s a lot to consider.

In addition to help with what steps to take, you might want legal counsel and financial compensation for your trauma. With the right information, you may be able to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and more. We’ll cover guidelines for reporting a dog bite, what to do after the attack, information about determining liability, and more.

How to Report a Dog Bite Incident

Who do you report a dog attack to? Arizona law requires that anyone with direct knowledge of an attack must report the bite immediately to an enforcement agent. This includes any witnesses, victims, and the owner of the pet. You can report the incident to the police or Animal Care and Control by looking up the appropriate phone number for the county you live in.

Each state has a limit on how long you have to file a report for the incident, called a statute of limitations. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit involving a dog bite is two years from the date of the attack.

What Happens After the Report?

What is the animal control dog bite procedure in Arizona? If a dog bites someone in the state, authorities will quarantine it for 10 days from the date of the incident. Vaccinated dogs can be quarantined and confined in the owner’s home or another approved location, while unvaccinated dogs will have to go to a veterinary hospital or pound.

Determining Viciousness

A court official might choose not to release the animal if it appears to have rabies or seems vicious in that it tends to endanger or attack people without being provoked. If you have reasonable grounds to believe the dog that bit you is vicious, you can petition a court to officially determine this. If the dog appears to be a danger to public safety, the court can impound the animal until they make any further decisions on how to handle it.

Consequences depend on what the legal system determines about the dog. They can range from the owner having to post a warning sign on their property about the animal to the dog being “destroyed.”

Liability for a Dog Bite Incident

According to Arizona law, the owner of the dog is generally liable when the bite occurred in public or on the owner’s property when the victim was lawfully present. In terms of liability for the person at fault, it doesn’t matter if the animal has attacked someone before or not.

Potential Defense for an Attack

The only defense the owner may have in the event of a lawsuit is proving that the victim provoked the pet before the bite. The jury or judge must determine whether a reasonable person should have predicted that the animal would react as it did.

Recovering Damages for a Dog Bite

If you’ve been bitten by a dog and the owner receives a conviction for the crime, you may request repayment for the expenses you incurred from the bite. The owner may be responsible for your lost wages, property damage, and medical bills related to the injury. Depending on the situation, you may need to pursue a personal injury claim to recover damages.

When is the Dog Owner Not Responsible?

If the court determines that the victim provoked the dog before being attacked, the owner won’t be held liable for the resulting damages. As mentioned, if the victim enters private property lawfully, the owner is liable for the dog bite. In fact, the owner of the pet might still be legally responsible for the attack even if the victim entered the property unlawfully.

Taking Care of the Injury

If you’ve suffered a dog bite, try to find out from the owner whether the animal is up-to-date on its shots and seek medical attention right away. Clean up the wound and take photos of it, if possible. If you receive any treatment for the bite, keep a copy of the bill in case you need it for recovering damages later. 

How do you know if a dog bite is serious? You can tell a dog bite is infected if there’s inflammation, swelling, pain, or redness at the site of the injury. Dog bites inherently come with a risk of contracting tetanus or rabies, so you should take them seriously.

Should You Get a Tetanus Shot?

Tetanus is a nervous system disease that can result from a puncture wound and lead to serious symptoms. The tetanus bacterium can lay dormant in the human body for a while before it becomes active, so you may not notice that you have it until weeks after getting bitten.

What happens if you don’t get a tetanus shot after a dog bite? You’re at risk of the deadly toxin entering your body and leading to the following symptoms:

  • Muscle spasms and jaw or neck stiffness
  • Abdominal muscle stiffness
  • Painful body spasms
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Fever

If you’re up to date on your immunizations, you should’ve received a tetanus shot that will protect you from the disease. However, many people don’t remember when they last had a tetanus immunization. So, as a precautionary measure, you should receive another shot after being bitten by a dog or receiving any deep puncture wound.

Do You Have Questions about a Dog Bite Incident?

After receiving a dog bite, you should contact the police or Animal Control in your county. Ask the dog’s owner for their contact information, take a picture of the bite wound, and collect contact info from any present witnesses. Keep as much documentation as you can about the incident, as this will help with your injury claim.

Dog bites happen to hundreds of people per day in the United States and many victims receive compensation for their injuries. If you were bitten by a dog, speaking with a personal injury attorney can help with recovering damages.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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