Will Animal Control Take My Dog for Biting?

Dog bite incidents can be scary, both for the person who gets bit and the owner of the dog. If your dog suddenly bites or injures someone, you may be wondering if animal control will take your dog, and what will happen to it. There can be multiple reasons for animal control taking a dog, and different outcomes depending on the situation.

Can Animal Control take my dog for biting?

In many dog bite cases, it is common for a dog to be taken in, although that doesn’t mean it will always happen. If you’re wondering “will animal control take my dog for biting”, these are the most common circumstances where a dog may be taken:

  • If the bite or injury occurs in public, or in a home that is not yours
  • If the injury is severe
  • If other laws, such as leashing laws, were being broken at the time

If a bite occurs in your home, you are not obligated to call animal control, although you cannot stop others from calling. Additionally, if the injury is minor, the other person can choose not to press charges, in which case they won’t call animal control.

In cases of severe injury, the dog is almost always taken in. If the police or ambulances get involved, they are also likely to call animal control.

What happens if Animal Control takes your dog?

If your dog is taken by animal control after a bite or injury, it’s not the end. There’s still a chance that your dog can be fine, and given back to you. Not every dog is euthanized.

If you are not present when the dog is taken, and your dog has some identifier (like tags) that they can use to contact you, animal control must let you know they have your dog as soon as possible. Not doing that is a crime on their part.

Once a dog is captured, multiple factors are considered. If the dog is not up to date on rabies shots, has a previous history of violence, or if the injury was very severe, they might choose to euthanize the dog. However, if none of those criteria are met, you have a good chance to get your dog back.

You often must go to court to get your dog back, and you might want to hire a dog bite attorney to help you with the case. Additionally, any other pet laws you may have been breaking will be taken into account.

In rare cases, if the dog still poses an active threat to human life and cannot be safely captured, police have the right to put the dog down.

So if your dog is usually peaceful, and the bite is minor, you have a good chance at getting your dog back — if animal control is even called. However, in more severe cases or with a history of violence, your dog might be euthanized.

Are you liable if your dog bites a trespasser?

If your dog is liable to bite people, you will not get rid of your duty merely by affixing a “Beware of the Dog” sign to the front gate. As a matter of fact, you may even be convicting yourself in advance, by admitting preknowledge of the animal’s savage or ferocious tendencies.

If your dog constitutes a “source of danger” — and you have clearly indicated that with your “Beware of the Dog” notice — it is not sufficient that you publish such general notice of that danger. There must be actual knowledge — reasonable means of knowledge is not enough.

Thus, where a man came business to a certain defendant’s premises and was bitten by the defendant’s dog, which was chained up in the yard, near a notice “Beware of the Dog” painted letters three inches high, it was held that, since the man was unable to read, the fact of the notice did not disentitle him from recovering damages.

In such circumstances, it is not necessary, in order to sue a person for injuries caused by a savage dog, to prove that he is the actual owner of the dog. It is sufficient to prove that he keeps it, by “harboring the animal about his premises or allowing it to resort there.”

This means that if you look after a friend’s dog — even if only for a week or two while your friend is away on holiday — you are the party responsible in law. Further, you must hold a license for the animal during the time it is in your care.

It is the keeper, not necessarily the owner, that the law holds responsible. “The occupier of any house or premises shall be deemed to be the owner of such dog, and shall be liable as such,” except where it can be proved that the dog was kept or permitted to live or remain on the premises without the occupier’s sanction or knowledge.

The best advice that can be offered to the person who proposes to keep a savage dog is DON’T. Even if the dog is kept on a chain, the owner is still liable for any damage it may do if it escapes.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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