Experiencing a dog bite can be a traumatic and alarming event, especially in a dense, bustling city like San Francisco. For many, the immediate aftermath of such an incident is clouded with confusion and distress. Dog bites can have far-reaching consequences, from physical injuries to psychological trauma—but reporting them helps build a safer community for all.
If you are bitten by a dog in San Francisco, it is important to file a report with San Francisco Animal Care and Control. Here is what you need to know about the reporting process and the potential steps that many follow.
Many residents of San Francisco welcome dogs into their homes. While most dogs are friendly and well-behaved, even the most docile pet can become aggressive under certain circumstances. The reasons for this aggression can vary, ranging from fear and protective instincts to pain or illness.
Dogs can inflict serious harm when they bite, leading to a range of serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries. Some of the most common injuries include:
Perhaps one of the most infamous San Francisco dog attacks is the case of Diane Whipple. In 2001, Whipple was attacked by two of her neighbor’s Presa Canario dogs in the hallway of her apartment building. She suffered extensive wounds to every part of her body, except for her scalp and the bottoms of her feet, leading to extensive blood loss. Hours after the attack, Whipple died from her wounds at San Francisco General Hospital; both dogs were later euthanized.
In San Francisco and the surrounding communities, San Francisco Animal Care and Control is the primary authority for handling dog bite reports. If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog, it is crucial to report the bite to this agency to have the incident properly investigated and hold the owner accountable for their animal’s actions.
To file a report, you can complete an online form and an animal control officer will respond to your request. You can also contact San Francisco Animal Care and Control directly by phone at (415) 554-9400 or via email at SFPDDangerousDogs@sfgov.org.
In San Francisco, animal control officers are available from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. During the off-hours, you can contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Department by dialing 911 in an emergency or by calling the non-emergency line at (415) 479-2311.
When you experience a dog bite, the moments immediately following the incident are crucial for ensuring your health and legal rights are protected. The steps you take can not only aid in your physical recovery but also play a significant role in any subsequent legal actions you may need to pursue.
If you are bitten by a dog in San Francisco, take the following steps immediately after the attack:
Pursuing legal action against the owner of a dangerous dog in San Francisco, or anywhere in California, is a path many victims may consider, especially when facing physical and emotional trauma. California’s dog bite laws are particularly stringent, adhering to a strict liability doctrine. This legal stance holds dog owners accountable for most injuries caused by their pets, regardless of the animal’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of any potential danger.
Under strict liability, the focus of a lawsuit is not on proving the owner’s prior knowledge of the dog’s aggression or the precautions taken to prevent the bite. Instead, it revolves around the incident itself. To establish a successful claim under this statute, you must prove two key elements:
In simple terms, if you were legally present at the location of the attack, the owner is typically responsible for your injuries. This rule applies regardless of whether the dog has previously shown aggressive behavior or bitten someone. However, certain exceptions exist; if you were trespassing, provoked the dog, or if the dog was performing police or military work and acted in accordance with its duties, the owner would not be held liable.
By filing a San Francisco dog bite lawsuit, you can recover compensation to make you whole again following the traumatic ordeal. Your settlement can cover various damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Given the importance of this compensation—and the complexities of California’s dog bite laws—an attorney’s guidance can be valuable. After the attack, contact a San Francisco dog bite lawyer to learn more about your rights and take your first steps toward a fair settlement.