How to File a Dog Bite Report in San Francisco

-Posted On November 14, 2023 In Dog Bites-

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.

The Dangers of Dog Bites in San Francisco

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:

  • Puncture wounds and lacerations
  • Permanent scarring
  • Infections caused by bacteria in the dog’s mouth
  • Internal organ damage
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Psychological trauma, including PTSD
  • Nerve damage or neurological impairments
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Tendon and muscle injuries
  • Facial injuries, particularly in children
  • Loss of mobility or function in the affected area
  • Traumatic amputation of fingers or other body parts
  • Long-term pain and sensitivity in the affected area

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. 

How to File a Report with San Francisco Animal Care and Control

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

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.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Dog Bite

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:

  • Stay calm and prioritize your safety. Avoid trying to catch or confront the dog, especially if it’s unfamiliar.
  • Document the incident. Take photographs of your injuries, the dog, and the location where the incident occurred.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Even for seemingly minor wounds, professional medical evaluation is essential to prevent infections and create a documented record of the injury.
  • Report the incident to San Francisco Animal Care and Control. This is especially important if the dog is unfamiliar, as they need to check its rabies status and take steps to prevent future incidents.
  • Exchange information with the dog owner, if they are present. Obtain their contact details and verify the dog’s vaccination status.
  • Gather insurance information from the dog’s owner. Many homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites, and this information will be crucial if you choose to pursue compensation later on. 
  • Consult with a lawyer experienced in dog bite cases. Legal advice is vital in navigating the complexities of dog bite laws and ensuring that your rights are protected.

Pursuing Legal Action Against the Owner of a Dangerous Dog

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:

  • You were bitten by the defendant’s dog.
  • The bite occurred while you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This includes the property of the dog’s owner, provided that you were not trespassing.

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.

Contact a San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyer Today

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.

Awards & Recognitions
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image