Dog Bite Laws in Ventura County

Dogs are often considered man’s best friend. However, these household pets are still animals and if they feel threatened or anxious will behave as such and bite whatever they feel threatened by. These bites can be incredibly damaging and can leave the victim with a series of injuries that can last a lifetime. Based on some reports, 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the United States. Out of these 4.5 million dog bite reports, 1 out of 5 become infected. These infections can cause severe damages and may require extensive medical treatment to reach a full recovery. Fortunately, in San Francisco County, there is a multitude of laws that protect visitors and residents from the dangers of dog bites, and the spread of dog bite infection. This article will focus on not only what to do after receiving a dog bite, but also the laws that protect dog bite victims in San Francisco County.

San Francisco County
Home to globally known tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and Golden Gate Park, San Francisco County has some of the most iconic California travel spots in the entire state. Located in Northern California, San Francisco County comprises 47.9 square miles and contains the San Francisco Peninsula, and the surrounding Bay Area. San Francisco is recognized as the fourth-most populated city in California and is ranked as the 13th most populated in the entire United States. Founded on June 29th, 1776 by Spanish colonists, San Francisco has grown to one of the most lucrative and largest city capitols in the United States. Due to the high influx of people, the county has to take extra care in protecting the rights of its visitors and residents from the threat of things like dog bites. Fortunately, there are some laws in San Francisco County that do just that.

San Francisco Dog Bite Laws
In San Francisco County and California as a whole, dog owners are held strictly liable for any injuries that their canine may cause. This means that in the event of a dog bite the owner of said dog is responsible for the damages that dog had caused regardless of the circumstances. Whenever a dog bite occurs in San Francisco County, the parties involved are required to report the incident as soon as possible. After the dog bite is reported, and it is the dog’s first offense, the owner of the dog will more than likely get a notice from the ACC or Animal Care Control. This notice will order that the dog is put under a 10-day at-home quarantine. This quarantine is put in place to monitor and evaluate the health of the dog. The owner is also required to send all of the medical information of the dog. After the notice, there is also a chance that members will visit the home of the dog owner to ensure that the premises are suitable for an effective ten-day quarantine.

After the bite occurs it is likely, that the event will be reported to San Francisco’s Viscous Dangerous Dog Unit, or VDU. This organization is put in place to ensure the safety of the public, and assist the dog owners and dog bite victims. Based on San Francisco County dog bite laws, the victim of a dog bite has every right to request a trial at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. If this occurs, the dog owner is required to appear in court to explain the incident.

If the dog is deemed as “Vicious and Dangerous” the dog owner will have to adhere to the safety regulations the court puts in place. This can include things like ensuring the dog is on a leash at all times when outside the home; ensuring there are adequate restraints such as fencing and walls at home; or require the owner to work with a trainer to ensure the safety of the dog in public.

Regardless of the circumstances of your dog bite, state and county law dictate that the owner is deemed responsible for the damages. These damages can be truly devastating to a victim, and in particular, situations can even be life-threatening.

The Implications of Dog Bites and What To Do
A vast majority of dog bite incidents occur at home more than they do anywhere else. They are also inflicted by dogs that we are most familiar with. Those at the highest risk of dog bites are children between ages 5 and 9, and men. That is not to say that dog bites cannot occur through other means and at different locations. For this reason, it is incredibly important to understand the best course of action to prevent a dog bite. Listed below are some tips you can follow to help prevent a dog bite:

  • Don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for its young
  • Don’t pet a dog without allowing it to smell you first
  • If a dog looks as though they may attack, don’t run from the dog
  • Don’t panic or make loud noises when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • Don’t approach strange dogs
  • When small children play with dogs, make sure that they are under supervision.

Following these preventative measures do not guarantee that you will avoid a dog bite. Some dogs will still attack when unprovoked, and as such, it is incredibly important that you understand the things you can do to treat the wound. These treatments can vary on the severity of the injury and are listed below for your reference:

  • Minor Wounds: With minor dog bite wounds it is recommended that you wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antibiotic cream, then cover the wound with a clean bandage. You should see a healthcare provider if the wound becomes: red, painful, warm, or swollen; if you develop a fever; or if the dog that bit you was acting strangely.
  • Deep Wounds: If you have suffered a deep wound it is recommended that you apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop or slow, or you feel faint or weak, call 911 or any other local emergency medical service immediately. With deep wounds, it is highly recommended that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Dog bite wounds can be truly devastating, especially when they are left untreated. If a victim does not receive proper treatment, they could be met with life-threatening infections. Some common infections contracted by dog bites are bulleted below:

  • Rabies: Rabies is the most dangerous diseases that people can contract through dog bites. While cases of rabies are rare, the rabies disease is incredibly lethal. Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and once symptoms show is almost always fatal. One of the most common ways to contract rabies is through the bite and saliva of an infected animal. Victims who have been exposed to an animal that could have rabies should immediately seek out medical treatment.
  • Capnocytophaga: This is a bacteria that lives in the mouths of humans, dogs, and cats. These bacteria don’t make dogs or cats sick, so it is not always easy to identify if your pet has it. The spread of Capnocytophaga to humans is rare, but they are typically spread through bites, scratches or close contact with a dog or cat. Most people who come into contact with dogs or cats do not become sick. However, people with a weakened immune system are at a greater risk of becoming sick.
  • Pasteurella: this is a type of bacteria seen in over 50% of infected dog bite wounds. The bacteria commonly cause a painful, red infection around the bite area, but it can cause more severe conditions in those with a weakened immune system.
  • MRSA: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a type of staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics. Dogs and other animals can carry MRSA without showing symptoms. However, the bacteria can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in people. In some, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.
  • Tetanus: Tetanus is a toxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani, and can cause rigid paralysis in people exposed to it through deep bite wounds.

These are just a few of the infections bacteria a victim could contract after suffering from a dog bite. Fortunately, the variety of San Francisco Dog Bite Laws protect victims from experiencing further damages. In all dog bite cases in the state of California, the owner of the dog is considered to be responsible for the damages. However, when attempting to sue a dog owner for damages, it is in your best interest that you seek the assistance of a skilled attorney.

How Normandie Law Firm Can Help
Having a skilled attorney on your side can mean the difference between filing a successful claim for compensation and having your case dismissed from court entirely. Clients who file a claim with Normandie Law Firm may find some if not all of the following damages compensable to them:

  • Past and Future Medical Expenses
  • Loss of Income
  • Loss of potential future income
  • Emotional Damages (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc…)
  • Punitive Damages

Victims of a dog bites contact our Los Angeles law offices to learn more about how to receive compensation for their injuries. At Normandie Law Firm, our dog bite attorneys can assist you in understanding dog bite ordinances in San Francisco County, and in fighting and winning your dog bite lawsuit. While we are based in Los Angeles, we also practice in San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, Bakersfield, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento and throughout the state of California.

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