Fatal MaulingIn April, a 63 year old woman was attacked by a pack of pit bulls while jogging in her home town a few miles outside of Los Angeles. The horrific story caught national media attention and has since been reported across the country. According to investigators, the woman was mauled by at least four pit bulls. A witness called 911 and attempted to scare away the dogs by honking a car horn. A few minutes later, one of the dogs turned on the responding officer who was forced to fire his gun at the animal to keep it at bay. The jogger was rushed to a local hospital but died en route.
Police and animal control workers have impounded six large dogs, four pit bulls and two mixed breeds, from a local resident. While serving a warrant at that location, police discovered a hidden marijuana “grow” operation and arrested the occupant. It is unclear if these are the dogs that attacked the woman, DNA tests are being conducted, but it is possible that the owner kept the dogs intentionally aggressive as guards for his illegal operation in which case he may face criminal charges.
National Dog Bite Awareness WeekWith National Dog Bite Awareness week starting May 19, this tragic attack serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of keeping uncontrolled pets. Unfortunately, California ranks first in number of dog bite attacks annually, with Los Angeles holding the dubious distinction as the worst city for Postal Worker dog bites; 69 last year.
According to statistics compiled by State Farm Insurance, there were over 16 thousand dog bite claims filed in 2012 at an average cost of almost $30,000 per claim; up $10,000 per claim since 2003. In anticipation of Dog Bit Awareness Week, the United States Postal Service released its 2012 report which recites several disturbing statistics. According to the report, the AMA estimates that Dog Bites are the most commonly reported public health issue for small children who are 900 times more likely to be bitten than a postal worker. In total, 4.7 million people were the victims of reported dog attacks in the United States in 2012 alone, many more attacks go unreported each year.
Financial LiabilityWhat many people don’t realize is that the owner of a dog involved in an attack may be financially liable. Owners have a duty to maintain control over animals under their care; a failure to meet that duty can result in liability. In addition, many such attacks are covered under homeowners’ insurance policies providing a stable source from which to collect a judgment or settlement.
Staying SafeTo prevent attacks, avoid aggressive dogs on your route. Even dogs that appear to be restrained can sometimes break free and attack. If a dog is behaving aggressively it is best to steer clear entirely. Keep an eye on small children; they are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks. It is a good idea to read the Postal Service report on the subject; it contains a number of excellent tips for avoiding a dog attack.
If you are attacked by a dog, your first priority should be your safety. Once the immediate danger has passed, it’s critical that you see your doctor. Even if a bite seems minimal, some dogs can carry diseases, such as rabies, and small bites can still become infected. Your health and safety should always come first.