Articles Posted in Dog Bite Attacks

After decades of dog owners vying for designer breeds, animal rescues across the country have become full of the “less desirable” breeds or animals that are of unknown descent. While scientists have for the most part rejected the idea that certain breeds or mixes of breeds are inherently dangerous, an animal’s upbringing is believed to have a significant impact on its personality. Thus, dogs that have been raised without a steady home or shelter, or have been subject to abuse, are more likely to lash out randomly.

Recently, the trend across the country has been to focus more on adopting those animals that need a home, rather than shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a designer breed. And while this certainly is a welcome change, some pet owners are unaware of an animal’s propensity to attack until they bring them home.

In the event of a dog attack, the owner of the dog may be liable for the injuries caused by their animal. However, Virginia dog bite law employs the “one bite rule,” which makes it difficult for the those bringing a case against an animal’s owner to succeed.

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Last month, an appellate court in West Virginia issued a written opinion in a case brought by the surviving spouse of a man who was killed in a vicious dog attack. The case was filed against the local county where the couple lived and required the court to determine if the county could be held liable, even though the dogs were privately owned by another citizen of the county. Ultimately, the court concluded that the city may be held liable because a special relationship existed between the county and the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her husband lived in Monroe County. On several occasions, the plaintiff had expressed concern to the county’s dog warden that several neighboring dogs presented a danger to the community. The dog warden told the plaintiff that the “county would take care of it.”

On a separate occasion, the dog warden visited the home of the dogs’ owner. However, when she pulled up, at least one of the dogs approached the car, jumped on the hood, and acted in an aggressive manner, preventing the dog warden from getting out of the car. She later returned to the home and issued a citation to the dogs’ owner for failing to keep the dog properly restrained.

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