Recently we posted about a tragic incident where a young boy was attacked by a dog. According to WJHG Channel 7, there has been a rise in dog bites on children in Bay County. In May, Bay County Animal Control says there were ten reported dog bites on children. Last year, 414 dog bites were reported to Bay County Animal Control. Currently in 2016, 187 bites have been reported.
We can now add an additional attack to the list as reported by WJHG Channel 7. This past Tuesday, a pit bull attacked a 58-year-old woman in Callaway. It’s believed the dog lived next door and attacked the woman in her yard. When the first deputy arrived, the dog was still attacking the woman. The deputy was able to scare the dog away, and the dog jumped over a fence into the yard believed to be where it lived. According to the deputy, he then noticed a smaller dog laying near the woman. It is believed the small dog belonged to the woman attacked, and the dog was already dead after being attacked. When two additional deputies arrived, the dog apparently came back over the fence and charged at the deputies. The deputies say they believed the dog was about to attack again, so they shot and killed it.
The victim’s injuries were so severe, she had to have emergency surgery and was in the hospital in critical condition, therefore, investigators had not been able to get a statement from her regarding what happened. The Sheriff’s office is also sorting out the dog’s history. Officials say they believe the same dog was involved in another reported bite. However, the dog was then living at a different address with different owners. Regardless, there has been no word from the owner(s) of the dog.
According to animal control, reported bites come from a variety of dog breeds. The attacks in the past month do not just include pit bulls but also Labrador retrievers, huskies, bulldogs and chihuahuas, to name a few.
The American Veterinary Medical Association provided some interesting tips on Dog Bites:
· Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
· Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
· Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
· Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
· Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.
· Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
According to the AVMA website, there are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how – or if – they should approach a dog.
Florida law has evolved on liability in dog bite attacks. As I posted in our prior post, ownership under Section 767.04 is limited to “the owner of any dog that bites any person.” §767.11(7) was added in 1990 to broaden ownership as “any person, firm, corporation, or organization possessing, harboring, keeping, or having control or custody of an animal.” But the Florida Supreme Court in Wipperfurth v. Huie, 654 So. 2d 116 (Fla. 1995), determined a “kennel owner or veterinarian undertaking care, custody, and control of a dog” pursuant to an agreement with the animal’s guardian was not a “dog owner.”
The statute puts strict liability on the dog’s owner if the victim is “on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place” when the bite occurs. A person “on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner” is there legally.
There are other legal issues with dog bites but ownership and where this particular victim was at the time of the attack would potentially bring liability issues to the owner of this dog who viciously attacked.
We hope the victim has a speedy recovery and is able to go home soon.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a dog bite, contact us at Brannon & Brannon for a free consultation (850)659-2252 or through our website: www.brannoncanhelp.com