When your dog bites another dog or a person, you may have to deal with civil charges, criminal charges, and animal charges. Civil charges involve the injured party suing you to cover their medical expenses and suffering. However, legal action may be avoided by offering to pay their medical expenses from the beginning. Criminal charges may be brought if it is determined that you caused the attack or were overly negligent. You may be most concerned about the charges against your animal, as animal control may take them away and threaten to euthanize them. However, you may be able to save your pet.
Do Not Agree to Euthanize Your Pet Because You Feel Pressured
In many cases, animal control will take your dog after a bite is reported and ask for your permission to euthanize them. They will often imply that you have no choice in the matter. However, if you do not agree to have your animal put down, they will be required to get a court order to do so. This gives you an opportunity to prove that your dog is not vicious and to save their life. Although you may be emotional and frantic after your dog bites someone, it is important to not feel pressured to agree to have your dog put down if you think it is an extreme solution.
Agree to Reasonable Restrictions for Your Pet
After your dog bites, you will likely have to agree to basic restrictions to prevent them from biting again. This may include improving their enclosure, keeping them on a chain or leash, and having them in a muzzle when they are around people. Some judges may require more severe restrictions, such as keeping your dog indoors. If you find the restrictions to be too severe, you will need to weigh their quality of life against keeping them alive. In some cases, it may be kinder to your pet to re-home them in another state or to euthanize them.
Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
If your dog was not spayed or neutered when the incident occurred, you should look into having the appropriate procedure completed as soon as possible. In male dogs who exhibit marking behaviors, neutering can help reduce their aggression. While spaying and neutering may not reduce aggression in all dogs, it shows that you are willing to put in the effort to control your dog.
Sign Up for Behavior Management Training With Your Pet
Behavior management training, similar to spaying or neutering, shows that you are taking proper steps to control your pet, which can impress a judge. It also gives an expert time to assess your pet so they can testify on your pet's behalf. Along with training, you should have your dog's temperament tested with a qualified temperament testing expert such as a representative of the American Temperament Test Society.
Get an Experienced Lawyer
Whether you are being sued, are experiencing criminal charges, or need to save your dog from being put down, hiring a lawyer before you talk to the police or animal control is a good idea. An experienced lawyer can help you recognize your options and can delay or prevent the euthanasia of your dog. You should let your lawyer know about any past aggression your dog has shown and work with your lawyer to show how you plan to control your pet in the future.
Dog bites can be traumatizing for the victim and for the dog owner. If your dog has bitten someone, make sure to talk to a dog bite attorney before you make any decisions about whether to put your dog down.