How to Report a Dog Bite
Every year, thousands of victims report dog bite cases in California – some of which are fatal. Dog bite injuries can range from light cuts and scrapes to catastrophic mauling incidents. If you get bitten by a dog in Los Angeles, you should always report the bite. This is an important step in holding the pet owner accountable for your injuries and protecting others in your community from a potentially dangerous dog.
The Importance of Reporting a Dog Bite
Many dog bite injury victims don’t report their bites out of concern for the friend or family member who owns the dog. Others worry that reporting a bite means that the dog will be put down. In California, authorities will only require euthanasia after a dog attack if the dog has rabies, if the injuries are serious, if the dog has bitten at least two other people, or if the dog had been trained to fight or attack people. Other than cases involving rabies, a hearing in a court of law is required before ordering euthanasia.
Reporting a dog bite is important for many different reasons. Notifying the proper agency will create a record of the dog bite on paper. This can allow authorities to track the dog’s aggressive behaviors and intervene to protect the community, if necessary, such as by requiring the pet owner to use a muzzle when walking the dog. Reporting a dog attack may prevent the dog from biting and injuring others, including vulnerable children and senior citizens. A report of the incident can also provide evidence during your insurance claim or injury lawsuit.
How Do You Report a Dog Bite in Los Angeles County, CA?
All animal bites are legally reportable in Los Angeles county (other than bites by rodents and rabbits). If your situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, for a nonemergency dog bite report, contact the correct animal control departments as soon as possible. Start with the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control Center. Fill out the center’s online request form with a description of the event and the dog owner’s name and address, if known. The center will get back to you with information about what to do next.
You should also report the dog bite to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department. You can use their online reporting portal, send a fax or call the animal control center closest to you to report the event. Notifying the health department allows them to keep their dog bite injury data up-to-date, track trends in animal bites in the community and control potential rabies outbreaks.
What Happens After You Report a Dog Bite?
Once you report the dog bite incident, an officer at the department that received your complaint will create a bite report by asking you questions about the incident and writing down the facts of the case. The officer will also contact the owner of the dog, if known, to ensure that the animal is properly quarantined. A 10-day quarantine is mandatory after any dog bite incident to find out if the dog has rabies. A county health officer will observe the animal at the beginning and end of the quarantine to see if there are any symptoms of rabies. Then, the department will give you a copy of the bite report to use for your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Other Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
In addition to reporting the bite, other steps that you should take include writing down eyewitness names and phone numbers, getting professional medical care for your injuries, and taking photographs of your injuries as they heal. Document your dog bite to create a stronger injury claim, such as with an injury journal, medical records and a copy of your bite report. Then, consult with a Los Angeles dog bite attorney about your legal rights. A lawyer can help you pursue just financial compensation for your injuries and related medical bills.