From your dog’s perspective, the best way to keep you safe is to get aggressive with anyone they think is a threat. The best way for a dog to show it means business may mean biting the aggressor. This could well lead to the state mandating you put the dog down.
The good news for dog owners is that in Las Vegas, the road from your dog biting someone to euthanasia is long, and you have several exit ramps. Pacific West Injury Law can help you defend your dog if it inadvertently bites another person.
Nevada’s Dog Bite Rules
The state of Nevada does not have a statewide statute for dog bites, but if your dog bites someone, you can face a civil lawsuit if your dog has a documented history of aggression. The city of Las Vegas, Clark County, and the surrounding counties have their own individual statutes regarding biting dogs.
What Nevada Considers a “Vicious” Dog
If your dog attacks someone in the Las Vegas city limits, you – the dog’s registered owner – must report the incident to Animal Control. At this time your dog will be classified as “dangerous”, and you are put on notice that your dog has one strike against it.
If it bites another person a second time, your dog will fall into the “vicious” category. At this point, you can be held liable for your dog’s attacks and subject to civil litigation. Worse, the state of Nevada can euthanize your dog.
Las Vegas does not allow dogs that are legally classified as “vicious” in the city limits, so if you have a dog that has been designated as such then you need to re-home the dog or face putting the dog down.
Keep Your Dog Leashed
Possibly the only thing worse than having to put your dog down is having to pay damages to the biting victim. As the dog’s owner, all the responsibility for behavior falls on you. But there is one way to ensure you never have to face this situation – always keep your dog leashed and under control when you aren’t at home.
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What Are the Owner’s Responsibilities in Las Vegas?
The leash laws in Las Vegas, Clark County, and other area counties are simple and straightforward. Unless your dog is in a designated roam-free area, it is illegal – a misdemeanor – for them to be off-leash.
Even if you live in a gated community, you are bound to obey the municipal leash laws. If you don’t, your community can fine you up to $1000 and community service, plus there is the distinct possibility of jail time – up to six months for a second offense. If there is good news here, it’s that the city of Las Vegas won’t charge you criminally – that is, it isn’t a felony – if Fido is running free in the streets.
Your responsibility doesn’t end with keeping your dogs leashed. Here are your other obligations where your dogs are concerned.
Your Actions Caused the Attack
If you did anything that led to your dog’s attack, you could be held liable. This may well be a he said/she said scenario, but if your dog attacked you are not dealing from a strong position.
You Did Nothing to Prevent the Attack
Ultimately, the owner is responsible for the dog’s behavior. If your dog attacks another person, it’s your job to prevent or attempt to prevent the attack.
It’s also your job to learn the signs of aggression in your dog. These are the most common signals they’ll send that their hackles are up – aside from the actual hackles rising on the back of the neck:
- Making eye contact with the victim
- Making a rumbling growl and showing its teeth
- Sticking its tail upright and perking up its ears
- Spreading its legs in a defensive stance and pushing out its chest
If your dog exhibits any of these behaviors and bites, and you do nothing to stop it, the victim could be eligible for compensation as you can be found negligent.
There’s a Two-Year Limit to Filing a Civil Claim Against You
Basically, Nevada gives you a pass on that first bite, giving your dog the benefit of the doubt that it was a one-off situation. If there is a second bite, then the owner is considered negligent as the dog has proven to behave aggressively in the past, and this indicates a pattern of violent behavior. When the dog’s owner fails to take preventative measures to avoid that second bite, they are seen as complicit in allowing the behavior.
The state also allows the biting victim two years to file a civil claim against you, so if your dog has bitten someone else in that two-year period, you could face additional financial penalties.
The Victim Has to Prove Your Dog Is Vicious
The biting victim does have to prove that the bite was unprovoked, so you should make very detailed notes about the situation that led to the bite, if the victim was teasing your dog, for example, or got too close to your baby’s stroller after you asked them not to, that can be considered a warning that the dog could bite.
If they can prove that your dog has bitten another person in the past, the attack was not provoked, and they suffered harm, the victim may be entitled to compensatory damages from you. This could include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even some punitive damages.
Dog bites are usually covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy, so you not only want to protect your dog but also do everything possible to avoid a claim against your policy.
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The experienced attorneys at Pacific West Injury Law can help you defend your pet and your property. Contact us today for a free consultation.