It is estimated that 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs this year. Children are the primary victims of these injuries. Ca. 800,000 people will require medical treatment each year due to dog bites. Over the past 15 years, over half of states have passed laws with stiff penalties for dog owners that cause serious injury or death. (Source: American Veterinary Medical Association).
Arizona Dog Bites Laws
Arizona has several laws regarding dog bite injuries.
Revised Statutes of Arizona, sections 11-1025. This law states that an owner of a dog is liable for injuries caused by dog bites without the need to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner. This is known as "strict liability". The only defenses against a claim under this statute are the violation or provocation of the dog. This statute applies to dog bites. This does not apply to cats or other pets. It also does not apply to other injuries that may have been caused by a dog, such as scratches with the claws.
Revised Statutes of Arizona, sections 11-1020. This law imposes any responsibility that permits a dog to run as a whole for any damage to any person or property. This law is wider than the law of strict liability. The injuries may be due to a bite, as well as other injuries, such as a broken leg if a dog jumps on someone passing by on a bicycle. The law not only imposes liability on the owner, but also "person or persons responsible for the dog". This may include pet riders or others who may be caring for another person's dog.
Arizona common law. Arizona has followed the general rule of law for dog bites for many years. This generally requires proof that the owner knew or should have known about their dangerous inclinations. For example, if a dog owner has a dog that has bitten other people in the past and the owner does nothing to keep the dog away from visitors, the dog owner may be held responsible if the dog bites a guest. However, if the dog had never bitten anyone before and the owner has no reason to believe that the dog would hurt anyone, the dog owner may not be held liable, even if it seriously injures someone.
Deadlines. Different deadlines apply to different types of dog bite requirements. Some claims must be made within one year, while others must be made within two years, depending on the law involved. There are some requirements for burial to be made in as little as 180 days if a government agency is involved. Because of these deadlines, a victim of a dog bite must quickly seek legal advice.
A special report, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, looked at breeds involved in fatal attacks on humans. In reviewing 20 years of data, they found that pit bulls were responsible for more lethal attacks than any other breed. In fact, pit bulls caused nearly twice as many deaths as the Rottweilers, the second most common breed responsible for fatal attacks. Together, pit bull and Rottwieler caused two-thirds of all fatal human attacks.
Dog bite prevention
The Center for Disease Control offers the following safety tips for preventing dog bites in children:
• Do not go to an unknown animal.
• Do not run from a dog and scream.
• Remain motionless (e.g., "still be like a tree") as you approach an unknown dog.
• If you roll over, roll into a ball and lie still (for example, "be still as a log").
• Do not play with a dog unless you are under the supervision of an adult.
• Immediately report straying a dog showing an unusual behavior to an adult.
• Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
• Do not disturb a dog that sleeps, eats or cares for puppies.
• Don't pet a dog without letting it see and sniff you first.
• If you are bitten, report the bid to an adult immediately.