Are You Responsible for a Provoked Dog Bite?
We all love our dogs, sometimes like they’re like our children. Of course, they aren’t actually, and they have different rules and expectations. Dogs don’t learn right from wrong as people do; they are animals and have to be watched, especially around people they don’t know. If they bite someone, you, as their owner, are responsible and are expected to pay the damages. But if it was a provoked dog bite, are you still responsible?
What is a Provoked Dog Bite?
A provoked dog bite is as its name suggests, a dog bite that was provoked by a third party or the dog bite victim. If someone who isn’t the owner does something to irritate or tease the dog before the dog bites them, it’s considered a provoked dog bite. It would also be considered a provoked dog bite if someone irritates or teases a dog but the dog mistakenly bites another person due to a third party’s provocation.
A dog biting a trespasser is not considered a provoked dog bite, but it’s also not considered a contestable dog bite. This would be considered an act of home defense, like shooting a trespasser. In this instance, the only reason you would be liable for a suit is if the dog had unchecked rabies or other diseases, or you need to prove that this person was trespassing, but this is a separate issue.
Do You Owe Someone Reasonable Care After a Provoked Dog Bite?
Reasonable care means someone paying another person’s medical bills after injuring them or causing their injury. Since a dog is your property, you are causing their injury if your dog bites them.
If the dog is provoked, though, you do not owe them reasonable care. Of course, you need the help of a personal injury attorney to help prove it in civil court, but if you know your dog was provoked, you shouldn’t give in to their demands. In fact, you can countersue for a number of issues, depending on the circumstances when they provoked your dog.
Ways someone can provoke a dog:
- By touching the dog without permission from the owner.
- By touching the owner without the owner’s permission.
- Approaching or touching another member of the owner’s household or family, such as children without permission or in an inappropriate manner.
- Purposely waving food or toys in front of the dog without showing any intention of giving them without permission from the owner.
- Taking food or toys away from the dog without permission from the owner.
- Purposely making sharp and piercing noises for no discernible reason in the presence of the dog. Dogs have better hearing than people, and loud noises are common triggers for dogs.
Of course, there are circumstances where a person may have to do these things where they are not provoking the dog. This means it’s important to tell your attorney as many details as possible to determine fault.
Can a Dog be Put Down for a Dog Bite in Pennsylvania?
Even if it wasn’t provoked, and the dog was unleashed, there are few circumstances where Pennsylvania courts would order for a dog to be euthanized for a dog bite. If the dog killed a person, or if the dog was found to be dangerous and could actively attack people who were not on the owner’s property, they would likely be euthanized.
A dog capable of killing a person, provoked or not, is typically forced to be euthanized. There are exceptions for trespassers and defending themselves and their owners during an assault, but a dog that can kill is typically considered a threat to public safety. Dogs that have killed people, even when provoked, may still be euthanized.
A dog with rabies is a separate issue from a dog bite. The policy for euthanizing a dog with rabies is a public health issue, not public safety or civil court issue. While rabies affects the mind of the dog, you would be responsible if your dog bites someone while having rabies. In this instance, it doesn’t matter if the dog was provoked or not, because it should have been euthanized or treated once it showed signs of rabies.
Call the Attorneys at MVSK Law If Your Dog Bites Someone
It’s not uncommon for people who provoke dogs to still try and sue for damages after the dog bites them. Whether it’s a neighbor, a stranger, or a friend, if you know your dog was provoked, get help from a personal injury attorney at MVSK Law.
While in most cases, your dog isn’t in danger of euthanization, it isn’t impossible, and the cost of a hospital bill after a dog bite can be thousands of dollars. Dog bites can lead to basic reconstructive surgery, which isn’t life-threatening, but can be costly.
Don’t pay someone’s bill when they antagonize your dog. Contact the personal injury attorneys at MVSK Law for help.