Whether you are a pet parent to the calmest dog in the world or a dog with some behavior concerns, it’s important that you are familiar with dog bite laws in your area. Leesville Animal Hospital is located out in North Raleigh, so today, we’re going to focus on the laws that affect you as a Raleigh dog owner.
Dog Bite Law: Raleigh Vet Clinic Shares the Basics on NC’s Dog Bite Laws
Why You Need to Be Familiar with Dog Bite Law
We encourage all dog parents to familiarize themselves with dog bite laws because there are a number of situations where you may need to call on that knowledge.
Most pet parents’ first reaction to this advice is to say “But Fluffy wouldn’t hurt anyone!” But the truth is that “fluffy” doesn’t have to aggressively bite anyone for you to find yourself in a situation where you need to call on dog bite laws for reference. Consider the following situations…
- Fluffy is a newly adopted pet in your family, you don’t know his history and you only find out that he has some food aggression issues when you try to take a bone from him and he bites your hand. The bite is bad enough to need medical attention.
- Fluffy is a senior dog who suffers from arthritis. He has never been aggressive in his life. When you volunteer to babysit your grandchild, the phone rings and you turn away for two seconds to answer it. During these two seconds, your grandchild loses their balance and falls on Fluffy. The fall jars Fluffy’s already painful hips and startles him awake and he instinctively snaps and bites your grandchild.
- Fluffy is a well-behaved dog and loves the company of other dogs. You decide to take him to the local dog park. You soon realize that not all pet parents who take their dogs to dog parks are as responsible as you are and a few of the other dogs lack basic social skills or manners. When one of these dogs gets a little too rough, Fluffy turns to warn them with a snarl and a snap but catches the other dog’s muzzle with his teeth.
- Fluffy deserves a nice long walk after you’ve had to work some long hours at work this week. You get up early and take him to hike around the lake. Fluffy is on his leash, but as you walk, you encounter a very large aggressive dog that appears to be alone. You try to remember what you’ve been taught to do in this situation, but before you know what’s happening, the loose dog is fighting with your dog and after biting Fluffy quite severely, the other dog runs away.
- A group of neighborhood teens have been making trouble lately and unbeknownst to you, they have spotted Fluffy in the backyard where you left him to bask in the sun while you finish up your laundry. The teens jump over your back fence and start taunting Fluffy. You don’t see or hear anything until there’s a loud scream. You run outside to find one of the adolescents holding his hand that’s got a pretty severe bite wound.
As you can see, there are many situations where your dog may wind up biting or being bitten, which is why you need to know what the law says about dog bites.
What Does NC Law Say About Dog Bites?
NC law in regard to dog bites is outlined in N.C.G.S.A. § 67-1 to 18; N.C.G.S.A. § 130A-196, 130A-200. You can view these statutes in their complete form here: NC Dog Bite Law.
Some highlights of NC dog bite laws that you should be familiar with include:
- Wake County forbids any animal to be allowed to run at large. An animal permitted to run at large that injures a person/animal, or damages property will result in their owner being held responsible for their dog’s actions.
- NC is a “one bite” state. This means that if a dog has never shown any signs of being vicious or dangerous in the past, the owner cannot be liable if their dog bites, mames, or attacks unless the dog is over 6 months and was running free and unaccompanied at night(in this instance, the owner is liable for their dog’s actions). Once a dog has been involved in this type of incident, however, the dog’s owner can be held liable for their dog’s actions.
- Dog owners can be charged with negligence if their dog causes damages or injury to others or to property if it can be proven that the owner showed negligence of care. For example, the owner of a dog of a breed that is known to be dangerous who allows their dog to roam free is considered to be negligent because of their knowledge that their dog is of a “dangerous breed”. (Griner v. Smith, 43 N.C. App. 400, 407, 259 S.E.2d 383, 388 (1979))
- North Carolina follows the law of contributory negligence which states that if a plaintiff is partially at fault for their being attacked or bitten, they may not pursue any recovery from the defendant.
An Important Note
When it comes to dog bites, your Raleigh veterinarian can assist in treating animal injuries that result from dog bites and assess the health of dogs that have bitten. As veterinarians, however, we are NOT qualified to provide legal advice and direct you towards a dog bite lawyer if you need help with a dog bite case. The information provided above is for educational purposes only, so that you can be a better-informed pet parent.
Looking for a Raleigh Vet Clinic Familiar With Dog Bite Laws?
If you’re looking for a Raleigh vet clinic that’s familiar with dog bite laws or if you’re simply looking for a Raleigh vet, we invite you to pay us a visit here at Leesville Animal Hospital! Just give us a call ahead of time at (919)870-7000 and we’ll set up an appointment for you to meet with our incredible veterinarians and take a look around our clinic!