Dog Bite Laws in Ventura County

Dogs have been proven to help members of a household handle stress and increase the likelihood of exercise. They are also often considered man’s best friend. However, these dogs are animals, and they will attack when they feel threatened or anxious. Dog bites can be incredibly damaging as they not only cause severe trauma to their victims, they can also leave victims with life-threatening bacterial infections. Some reports have shown that roughly 4.5 million dog bite incidents occur every year in the United States. Of these 4.5 million incidents, 1 out of 5 bites become severely infected. Fortunately, in San Mateo County, there are some laws that protect both residents and visitors from the trauma and damages caused by dog bites. This article will focus on the damages and implications of dog bites, as well as the city and county ordinances that protect dog bite victims in San Mateo County.

San Mateo County
Home to the world-famous Mavericks Beach, San Mateo County is located along the coast of Northern California. Redwood City is the capital of San Mateo, but the county also includes parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Francisco Peninsula, and the San Francisco International Airport. Founded in 1856 the county has a population of roughly 718,451 people. San Mateo County also comprises parts of the world famous and wealthy Silicon Valley. People from all over the world travel to San Mateo County, and very few expect to be bitten by a dog. Fortunately, there are some laws and ordinances that protect visitors and residents from the full trauma and damages brought on by dog bites.

San Mateo County Dog Bite Ordinances
San Mateo County dog bite laws designate that every bite incident involving a person and an animal that is subject to rabies is investigated by the Animal Control Officers and Humane Officers in San Mateo. San Mateo County is considered a rabies area, which means that certain animals, like dogs, are required to be vaccinated against rabies. These laws also designate that in the event of a dog bite, that the victim of the bite, the dog owner, or nearby witnesses to the bite report the event immediately. When a dog bite occurs in San Mateo County, the animal is typically quarantined. Most of these quarantines last roughly ten days, starting from the date of the bite. If a dog bites another animal or has reoccurring incidents where the dog bit another person or animal, that dog may be designated as a Dangerous or Vicious Animal. This could result in impounding, sterilization of the dog, or it could keep the dog owner from owning more animals. The longest amount of time that a dog vaccinated against rabies can be quarantined for is 30 days. However, if the dog is not currently vaccinated,  the vaccine had expired, or if the dog has never been vaccinated this quarantine period could last up to six months. As well as these dog bite laws enforced in San Mateo County, there are also some other laws that protect residents and visitors from being bitten in the first place. Leash laws, for instance, prohibit that a dog is allowed on the private property of someone else or public property without the proper restraints. Dogs in San Mateo County are also required to be up to date on their vaccinations and if they are older than four months are required to be licensed. While these laws help mitigate the possibility and damages of dog bites, these incidents can still occur. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you understand the steps you can take to prevent a dog bite, and the damages that dog bites can cause.

Dog Bites: Preventative Measures and The Damages
Some studies have shown that most dog bite incidents happen at home and are caused by dogs that we are most familiar with. Usually, children between ages 5 and 9 and men are most susceptible to dog bites. However, don’t let these statistics fool you, dog bites can occur to anyone at anytime. For this reason, it is in your best interest to understand what to do if you feel as though a dog may bite you. Bulleted below are some of the preventative measures you can take to prevent a dog bite from occurring:

  • 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

Unfortunately, these preventative measures do not always keep a dog bite from occurring. Some dogs will attack even when unprovoked. If this is the case, it is helpful to understand the best course of treatment for a dog bite wound. These treatments vary based on severity and in almost all cases should be seen by a medical professional. These treatments are as follows:

  • 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 injury 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 when left untreated can leave a victim with incredibly devastating bacterial infections. These infections can cause life-threatening conditions that in some cases are impossible to recover from. Some of these infectious bacterial diseases are listed as follows:

  • 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 some of the bacterial infections that a dog bite can cause. If you ever suffer from a severe dog bite, it is highly recommended that you seek assistance from a medical professional immediately. Fortunately, dog bite laws in San Mateo County protect both visitors and residents from the full damages and trauma that can be caused by dog bites. In the state of California, victims of dog bites have every right to file a dog bite lawsuit and sue dog owner for damages. However, when attempting to take legal action, it is in your best interest that you seek representation from a lawyer experienced with dog bite lawsuits.

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 Mateo County and fighting and win 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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