According to the most recent reports by Sonoma County, 1,615 dogs were taken into animal services between 2018 and 2019. Of those, nearly 1,200 dogs were strays or runaways. Dogs that have gone loose or live outdoors without a home can pose a serious threat if not trained or conditioned to humans. As we’ve learned recently, California operates under a strict liability law, meaning that a dog owner maintains all liability if their dog bites a person. But what happens when someone is bitten by a stray?
Identifying the Owner
In most cases, referring back to the initial Sonoma County reports, about 52% of dogs taken into the shelter are returned to their owners. This means that if a stray dog bit you, the odds are ever so slightly in your favor to find someone who could be held liable. Identifying information, like name tags or microchips, is incredibly useful in tracking down a responsible party.
In the event you are attacked by a loose dog, seek safety and medical attention immediately. Then, contact a dog bite attorney as they can help guide you and establish potential liability. Your attorney may be able to work with local animal control to capture and scan the dog’s microchip if applicable or ask the shelter to contact them should the owner arrive.
Defining Dog “Owner”
There are certain circumstances where an individual may not be an official “dog owner” and might feed local strays in the area. As defined by Sonoma County code, an owner is:
“any person who owns an animal or who has charge, care, custody or control of, or has a right to control an animal for fifteen (15) or more consecutive days” with an exception for veterinarians.”
With this in mind, you may have a claim if you were bitten by a stray dog cared for by a neighbor or resident. A business or other entity, like a boarding service or animal control, could even be held liable if a dog escaped under their watch.
Ultimately, in order to receive your deserved compensation, it is essential to establish who maintains ownership or control of a dog. If you are bitten by a dog with no identifiable information whatsoever, recovering damages may prove more complicated.
There are situations in which you may be able to file a premises liability claim. Premises liability claims arise when someone is injured on a party’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence. Property owners have a duty to practice reasonable care to protect people on their property.
Your Sonoma Dog Bite Attorney
Should you be bitten by a stray dog, whether you can prove the ownership of the dog or not, contact Flahavan Law Offices as soon as possible. With over 50 years of experience providing legal guidance to dog bite victims, we will handle your case and fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Call us today at (707) 414-0119 or fill out a form online for a free initial consultation.