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Many of us own a family pet and think of our dogs as family. However, dog bites are unfortunately common. Whether it is a stranger’s dog or a dog you know, a dog bite can be terrifying and require immediate medical attention. Texas has many municipal laws in place that control the ownership of dogs.
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How to Report a Dog Bite in Dallas, Texas
Report a dog bite in Dallas by calling 3-1-1. Provide the call taker with as much information as possible, such as the location of the incident, the time it took place, and what injuries were sustained. An Animal Services officer will investigate the incident within 72 hours. If you believe you have been exposed to rabies, call 214-819-2004 for more information and to report exposure.
You may also report a dog bite by calling the Dallas Police Department. Report the dog bite as soon as possible so that local law enforcement can investigate the incident and write a report. It is important to file a report so that the owner is on notice of their dog’s behavior and to prevent the dog from harming someone else. It is also important to have a report to preserve the claim for a future lawsuit if necessary.
The Difference Between Aggressive and Dangerous Dogs
It is a criminal offense to allow an unsecured dog to make an unprovoked bite causing bodily injury to a person, domestic animal, or livestock. Dogs found to be either aggressive or dangerous must be registered with the City.
An aggressive dog means that on at least one occasion, when the dog was not restrained, it killed or injured a restrained domestic animal or livestock.
Aggressive dog determination
The Texas Health and Safety Code provides that the determination for a dog to be classified as aggressive must come from an investigation that includes observation and testimony about the dog’s actions. The dog must be personally observed and witnesses must sign an affidavit attesting to the observed actions on the date of the incident of a dog attack.
The dog may be seized and impounded at the owner’s expense pending the investigation and determination on whether the dog is aggressive. If it is determined that the dog is not aggressive, the impound fees may be waived and the dog can be released to the owner.
If the dog is determined to be aggressive, the owner will be notified. The owner must comply with the requirements necessary to reclaim the dog. The owner will have a right to appeal the determination of aggressiveness.
Requirements for owning an aggressive dog
- Upon the determination that the owner is in possession of a dangerous dog, the owner must have the dangerous dog spayed or neutered.
- The owner must register the dangerous dog with the director and pay a dangerous dog registration fee of $250.
- The dog must be restrained at all times on a leash and must be in the immediate control of the owner.
- When taken outside, the dangerous dog must be muzzled so as to prevent any further biting injuries.
- The owner must obtain liability insurance coverage in the amount of at least $100,000.
- The dangerous dog must have a collar or harness on it with a current dangerous dog registration tag securely attached to it.
- A microchip implant is required.
- The owner must post a conspicuous sign stating, “BEWARE DANGEROUS DOG” and must be purchased from Dallas Animal Services
- The owner shall renew the dangerous dog fee annually for $50.
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A dangerous dog is one that makes an unprovoked attack on a human. Alternatively, a dangerous dog is one that is unprovoked, but its actions suggest that the dog would cause serious bodily injury in the future.
Read More: What If I Was Bitten by a Pit Bull?
Dangerous dog determination
The Texas Health and Safety Code provides that the director will determine if the dog is dangerous. If the dog is impounded, the fees may be waived and the dog released to its owner if the dog is determined not to be a dangerous dog.
If the dog is determined to be dangerous, the owner must comply with the requirements necessary to reclaim the dog and must pay all fees for impounding the dog. The owner has the right to appeal this decision.
Requirements for Owning a Dangerous Dog
The same requirements above for owning an aggressive dog apply here.
The City of Dallas keeps an updated database of aggressive and dangerous dogs at all times. This information is accessible on the Dallas City Hall website. The database includes a description of the dog, a picture, name, and owner contact information.
Pet Laws in Dallas
Texas law requires that dog owners use reasonable care when handling their dogs to prevent the dog from causing injuries. If the owner is negligent and this leads to a dog attack, the owner could be sued and possibly sent to jail. If the owner is in possession of an “aggressive” or “dangerous” dog, the penalties could be more severe.
Texas is one of 16 states in the country that follows what is known as the “one bite” rule. Under this rule, if the owner knows the dog has bitten someone before, the owner is liable for subsequent bites. Alternatively, if the dog has never bitten someone before and the owner has no reason to believe the dog would bite someone, the owner is less likely to be held liable for the dog bite.
Dogs Must be Registered
All dogs over four months old must be registered on an annual basis. Registering dogs ensures that pets are vaccinated, healthy, and accounted for. To register your dog, you must provide proof of a current rabies vaccination. You may register your dog on the Dallas Animal Services website.
Dogs Must be Confined
All dogs must be confined at all times. This includes being in a fenced yard, an enclosed structure, or by a hand-held leash when the dog is with the owner. Dogs may only be tethered for up to three hours in a 24-hour period. The dog must not be tethered longer than necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task if it requires the dog to be restrained.
Dogs Kept Outside
A dog may be kept outside, but you must have an area that is at least 150 square feet for each dog you have that is six months or older. Any structures enclosing a dog must be sturdy enough to prevent the dog from escaping. A doghouse or similar structure is recommended to protect the dog from the elements.
Tips to Avoid and Prevent Dog Bites
- Never approach a dog you do not know or that is not with its owner. This is especially true if the dog is behind a fence or tied down.
- Always ask permission from the owner before approaching a dog you do not know.
- Never approach a dog while it is sleeping, eating, or guarding something.
- Never chase a dog or provoke them by poking, hitting, or pulling at them.
How to Handle a Dog Bite
If the dog bite is serious, call 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, clean the wound and apply pressure if there is any bleeding. Keep the injured area elevated and wrap with a clean bandage. Remember to report all dog bites, whether serious or minor, to Dallas Animal Services by calling 3-1-1.
You should also consider speaking with an experienced dog bite attorney if you believe you may file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible dog owner.
Dog Bite Statistics
Texas leads the nation in fatal dog bites. From 2005 to 2013, 34 dog bite fatalities were recorded in Texas, which is more than any other state. Sixty-eight percent of these fatalities were in children ages 11 and younger. In 2020, there were two reported fatalities from dog bites.
Read More: Dog Bite Statistics
Get Help from Our Dallas Dog Bite Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced dog bite lawyers have handled many cases involving victims of dog attacks. After you’ve filed your Dallas dog bite report, we may be able to help you determine what to do next and help you seek the best possible outcome for your case.