Will a Dog Be Put Down if it Bites Someone in Arizona?


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, roughly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Most dog bites are rather harmless incidences, like a dog accidentally biting a child while they are playing together. However sometimes these bites can be much more serious, according to the same study 20% of people that have been bit by a dog require medical attention.

These latter instances are taken quite seriously by local animal control agents. The last thing anyone wants is for there to be a dog that poses a danger to their family, itself and/or the general public, but every circumstance is different.

In most cases, animal control will not euthanize a dog just for biting someone unless the circumstances are extreme. For instance, if a dog has rabies or has a repeated history of attacks, having the dog put down is more likely. However, if it was the dog’s first attack and resulted in only minor injuries, the likelihood of euthanasia is slim.

What Happens When a Dog Bites Someone

Before any evaluation is even conducted, there must be a report of a dog bite. Local investigators do not simply scour hospital records to see if a dog has bitten someone. There must be a report by the victim as exactly what has happened for an investigation to be started. To make an assessment of the incident, a proper investigation is conducted, usually by animal control agents who are specially trained for this kind of investigations. The investigation is quite thorough, beginning with asking all parties involved exactly what has happened.

This investigation will include interviews with the person who was bitten, the owner of the dog, and any witnesses to the event. If the dog owner is not known, then witnesses are asked for information that might lead investigators to discover where the pet is located. This part of the investigation is extremely important, because a stray dog that has not received its rabies shots poses a serious threat to the victim. If the dog cannot be located within a short period of time, usually no more than 12 hours, doctors may be required to begin the rabies treatment to ensure the disease has not spread to the victim.

As part of the investigation, if the dog is located, investigators will check to make sure the canine has received all of its vaccinations and immunizations. They will also investigate to see if there are any other instances where the dog has bitten someone. An animal that has had two or more instances like this can be deemed as a habitual offender by investigators, which is considered a much more serious situation.

First Time Offense For Dog Bite

If this is the first time that the dog has been known to investigators to have bitten another person, then the investigation takes an entirely different track. Usually, if the dog does not show any aggressive behavior when investigators come in contact with it, they may consider this a one-time incident that requires no further investigation.

What this means for the dog owner is that they are likely to have additional requirements placed on the animal to ensure that a re-occurrence of such an incident does not occur. This can mean that the dog is not allowed outside beyond the fenced yard or off of a leash, it has to wear a muzzle when in contact with others or other dogs, or that it is observed by trained animal behavioral specialists to ensure that no suspicious behavior manifests itself.

There are those instances where a dog simply bites someone, but this is not the standard way in which the dog lives. Investigators don’t want to punish a dog that had a one-time instance like this, so they will simply take additional measures to ensure public safety.

When Will a Dog Be Put Down If It Bites Someone?

Rarely does a dog have to be euthanized because of a biting incident. However, there are three instances where you can be absolutely sure that the action taken will be to put the dog down permanently.

1. A pattern of behavior where the dog has frequently bitten people

Frequently can be as many as two times, especially if those instances have happened in a short duration of time. This says to investigators that the dog has an erratic behavior and there may be no reason to believe that it will not continue to act in this way. As a result, putting the dog down may be the only option.

2. If this is the first time the dog has bitten someone but it shows an incredibly aggressive behavior when investigators come across it.

If there is no reason to believe that the dog is not going to stop biting others, even if this is the only time that it has done so, they still have to look out after the public. Investigators will act in a way that is sensible.

3. If there is an illness involved with the dog.

If it has been injured or is sick and it is deemed by investigators that this could be a causal factor in its behavior, they may conclude that putting the dog down is the best option. This is one of those instances where it may appear that the dog is beyond able to control its behavior, so safety becomes imperative.

What you should know is that just because your dog has bitten someone or another dog does not mean that it is going to be put down. Investigators are simply looking to protect the public and as long as your dog does not pose a threat.

How JacksonWhite Can Help

Besides providing useful information to Arizonans, JacksonWhite can help dog bite victims if they are thinking about filing a dog bite lawsuit. Often times a dog bite can cause serious trauma to a person, both physically as well as emotionally, and it is not fair that they have to suffer these damages.

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

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