Do Dogs That Bite Get Put to Sleep in California?
Nearly 90 million dogs currently live in the U.S., according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people every year, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites.
Will a dog be euthanized for biting a person in California? The answer is possibly — the dog may be put down under certain conditions.
When Is a Dog Euthanized for Biting a Person in California?
Dogs that bite are not always put to sleep, but they may be under any of the following circumstances:
- The dog has rabies.
- The dog has bitten at least two people.
- The dog has bitten and seriously injured a person.
- The dog has been raised to fight or attack.
If the dog has rabies, it will be euthanized, with no hearing required. When a dog bites a person in California, health officials are notified, and a ten-day quarantine is required. Dogs with a low risk of rabies may be quarantined in the owner’s home. If there is a high risk of rabies, quarantine must be in a veterinarian’s office or an animal shelter. If the dog shows symptoms of rabies and a vet confirms it has the disease, the dog will be put to sleep to protect the public from the rabid dog.
What Happens in a Hearing to Determine Whether a Dog Will Be Euthanized?
If the dog does not have rabies, a hearing may be held to determine if it will be euthanized. Dog bite hearings are usually initiated by the victim, a law enforcement officer, or animal control by filing a complaint with the animal control office or an animal shelter. Apart from filing a complaint to initiate a hearing and presenting evidence at the hearing, dog bite victims do not have the power to decide whether a dog will be put to sleep.
Hearings are conducted in the county where the dog attack occurred, with notice to dog owners. The person or agency that filed the complaint must prove, often by a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, that the dog is dangerous and should be put to sleep. The dog owner has an opportunity to present evidence to the contrary.
Evidence showing that the dog is a danger to the public may include:
- Severity of the injuries caused by the dog
- Location of the dog attack
- Evidence that the attack was not provoked
- Previous incidents in which the dog attacked a person or another animal
- Evidence that the dog was raised to be an attack dog or to fight
- Aggressive or unpredictable characteristics the dog has shown toward people or animals
The dog owner may present evidence in the dog’s defense, such as:
- Evidence that the attack by the dog was provoked
- Evidence that the dog can be trained or retrained to change its temperament
- Skill and care of the owner in keeping the dog from harming anyone in the future
What Outcomes Are Possible in a Hearing to Determine Euthanization?
A hearing to determine whether a dog should be euthanized has several possible outcomes, depending on whether the dog is found to be a danger to the public:
- The dog may be deemed not a threat and released to its owners.
- The dog may be deemed not a threat but have its license revoked because its owners were negligent, or suspended until its owners take certain measures to control the dog.
- The dog is deemed a danger to the public and subsequently euthanized.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you may have a claim for compensation. Contact Aratta Law Firm at (818) 550-1111.