Most dogs are friendly, warm members of the family. However, even dogs that are usually docile may bite when provoked or frightened, or when trying to protect the owner, their puppies, or food.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that dogs bite more than 4.7 million Americans each year. This means millions of dollars are paid out for claims related to dog bites. Dog bite liability can be a big concern for dog owners in Arkansas. However, a dog bite lawyer can help protect dog owners and their dogs, as well as negotiate for the payment of claims.
At our firm, we understand that pets are important members of your family. In a dog attack, often children and senior citizens are more likely to suffer serious injuries. It is, therefore, critical for pet owners in Arkansas to follow the law and practice habits that will protect both the dog and the owner.
What Are the Dog Owner Liability Laws in Arkansas?
Whether it’s a temperamental senior dog or a spirited puppy a trainer is still trying to tame, a dog owner in Arkansas is responsible for his or her dog’s behavior. You can, therefore, be taken to court if your dog bites someone and possibly be ordered to pay compensation to the person who got bit.
Arkansas is considered a “one bite state” with no civil dog bite statute except for a few counties with strict liability ordinances such as Springdale and Benton County. In a strict liability jurisdiction, you’re entirely liable for all your dog’s actions, even if you did not know the dog was dangerous.
What Does “One bite” State Really Mean?
Outside the two counties with strict liability, you are supposed to take the necessary precautions if your dog has a prior biting incident or has a propensity to bite. If you have this knowledge and fail to act accordingly, you’ll be assigned liability if the dog eventually bites someone.
Even without these statewide dog bite laws, the state has a criminal statute that can be used by victims to receive damages. You may be charged for a Class A misdemeanor if you negligently allow your dog to attack another person
What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone?
If you were not aware that your dog was potentially dangerous and could attack someone, dog bite laws would first focus on the confinement or quarantine of the animal for ten days. This can be a traumatic experience for the pet and the owners. During this time, health officials will observe the animal for rabies.
If a dog is deemed to be a low risk for rabies, it may be quarantined at home. However, you will need a dog bite lawyer to help convince animal control officers in your area that your dog can be safely confined at home.
In unfortunate circumstances, the issue can escalate into a euthanasia hearing to determine if the pet is a threat to the public and if he or she needs to be put down. Your Little Rock animal bite attorney can help you convince the courts against this drastic action.
What Signs Might My Dog Show to Express Tension?
Since dogs cannot speak their minds clearly to us, it’s important to watch their body language and behaviors. The ASPCA lists several ways you can tell your dog is uncomfortable or tense. They include:
- Intense stare
- Visible injuries on the dog
- A stiff tail
- Selfishness behaviors
- Backing away
- Pulled back ears
If someone wants to pet your dog, ask them politely to allow the dog to smell them first. It is okay to tell someone it isn’t a good idea to get close to your dog if your pet reacts negatively to them.
How Can I Keep My Dog and Others Safe from Biting Situations?
The most dangerous dogs in our communities have fallen victim to human inadequacies, such as irresponsible ownership or poor training, causing their issues. The best way to protect you and your dog from bite claims is to take as many precautions as possible.
Here are some essential steps to protect others, your dog, and yourself:
- Make sure your dog is on a leash while in public spaces, regardless of whether your state and local laws require it. Use a harness if your dog isn’t lash trained.
- Let your dog interact and socialize with people and other animals in controlled environments.
- Talk to professionals such as an animal behaviorist or veterinarian to find out suitable breeds for your neighborhood and household. Also, seek advice if the dog develops undesirable behaviors or aggression.
- Consider having your dog neutered or spayed. Studies show that dogs that are NOT neutered are three times more likely to bite someone.
- Discourage aggressive games with your dog, such as “tug-of-war,” which encourages inappropriate behavior. Instead, consider games such as “go fetch.”
- Fence your yard and keep the fence tall enough and secure enough.
- Train your dog appropriately. Teaching your dog common commands such as “Come” and “Stay” can be very useful if you want to control your pet in new settings.
Can My Insurance Company Cover My Dog?
If you own a dog, you should speak to your insurance company and ask if your homeowners or renters insurance covers dog bites. Most will cover this type of liability and sometimes offer coverage of $100,000 to $300,000.
Even though an insurance policy covering dog bite claims may be the best financial protection you can ask for, some insurance companies can deny coverage or refuse to cover certain breeds of dogs regarded to be “dangerous.” Your Cordova personal injury attorney can defend you and convince your insurer to provide the coverage they are committed to offer.
Animal Bite Attorneys Representing Dog Owners and Their Pets
It is every dog owner’s wish never to see their pup bite someone. You can avoid the negative consequences set forth by the dog bite laws in Arkansas by taking precautions.
If your dog bites someone, seek legal help immediately. These cases can quickly become complicated, especially if the injured person decides to “lawyer up.”
Get an experienced Arkansas dog bite lawyer from Denton & Zachary, PLLC, to fight for you and limit or eliminate your liability. Contact our law firm at (501) 725-8099 today for a free consultation.