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Will My Dog Get Put Down for Biting Someone?

Though it may not be the most common outcome, your dog CAN be put down for biting someone, and all dog owners must understand and possibly prepare for this if they ever find themselves in such a situation. 

As much as we love them, dogs are still animals and can sometimes behave aggressively, leading to potential injuries to humans. It is important to take steps to prevent this from happening. 

Socializing your dog, training them to obey basic commands, keeping them healthy, and providing them with plenty of exercise can all help prevent dog bites and ultimately avoid your dog being put down. 

Whether a dog will be put down for biting someone depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the dog's previous history, and the state's laws. 

What Determines Euthanasia for Dogs in California?

In the state of California, dog owners are usually responsible for their dog’s behaviors. A dog’s previous behavior however, may come under investigation if the state is considering euthanasia. 

Some factors that may decide euthanasia for dogs in California are :

  • Age and health of the dog 
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Unmanageable medical conditions
  • Shelter overcrowding
  • Dog owners request

Liability After a Dog Bite in California

California does not observe the one-bite rule. Under the one bite rule, a dog owner is not held strictly liable for the first bite or attack, as they are assumed to have no knowledge of their dog's dangerous propensities.

In California, the owner of a dog is generally liable for any damages that result from a dog bite, regardless of whether or not the owner knew or had reason to know that the dog was dangerous. This is known as strict liability

This means that the owner is responsible for : 

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Emotional distress
  • And all damages that result from the bite.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. A dog owner may not be liable for damages if the person who was bitten was trespassing on the owner's property or was provoking the dog at the time of the bite.

Legal Process after a Dog Bite

There is no federal dog bite law in the United States, therefore legal processes differ from state to state. If you are bitten by a dog in California, there are several steps that you should take to protect your legal rights and pursue compensation for your damages:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Report the incident
  • Gather information 
  • Document evidence
  • Consult with a lawyer
  • File a claim 

Before an owner's pet can be put down, the state must first conduct a hearing to determine whether the animal is a threat to public safety or not.

In some cases, if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or has caused severe injuries, a court may order the dog to be put down. This is typically a last resort and only occurs when other options, such as rehabilitation, have been exhausted.

It is important to act quickly after a dog bite, as there are strict time limits for filing a claim or lawsuit. Victims forfeit their right to compensation if they file two years after the initial incident, as stated by California’s statute of limitations.

Who to Report

If you have been bitten by a dog, both you and the dog owner are required to report the incident to the Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health and Rabies Control

You may also call : 

  • Emergency medical services
  • Local animal control
  • Insurance company
  • Law enforcement
  • Local health department 


In many states, if a dog has bitten someone, animal control may be required to investigate the incident and may order the dog to be quarantined for a period of time. Quarantine typically means that the dog will be kept in a shelter or veterinarian's office for a specific period, to monitor for signs of aggression or illness, such as rabies.

Section 11.04.210 of the County of Los Angeles Public Health Rabies Control Manual reads :

11.04.210 Confinement of biting animals -- Procedure generally.
The biting animal shall be quarantined, confined and observed for at least 14 days (dogs and cats, 10 days) after the day of infliction of the bite, with the exception that the following alternative to the 10-day isolation of dogs and cats is permitted: dogs or cats which have been isolated in strict confinement, under proper care and under observation of a licensed veterinarian, in a pound, veterinary hospital or other adequate facility, in a manner approved by the local health officer, may be released from isolation by the local health officer after five days of veterinary observation if, upon conducting a thorough physical examination on the fifth day or more after infliction of the bite, the observing veterinarian certifies that there are no clinical signs or symptoms of any disease. (Ord. 10728 § 1 (part), 1973: Ord. 7583 Part 2 § 219, 1959.)

Under California law, any dog that bites a human or another animal must be confined and observed for a period of at least 10 days, regardless of whether or not the dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination. 

“Vicious” and “Dangerous” Dogs in California

California defines potentially dangerous dogs as : 

  • Any dog that attacks unprovoked on two separate occasions within 36 months, causing defensive action
  • Any dog that bites a person unprovoked causing minor injuries
  • Any dog that attacks unprovoked on two separate occasions within 36 months, causing severe injuries and death

Vicious dogs are defined in california as : 

  • Any unprovoked dog which inflicts severe injury or kills in an aggressive manner
  • A potentially dangerous dog that continues to exhibit violent traits despite notification to its owner

Speak to Our Leading California Dog Bite Attorneys

Dog bites can have serious consequences for both the victim and the dog. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite in California, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. 

California's strict liability dog bite law provides important protections for victims, but it is important to act quickly and seek legal guidance to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Consult with West Coast Trial Lawyers today, our experienced dog bite attorneys will help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights as a victim as we have done with so many others just like you.
Schedule a free consultation with us at 888-572-9251 and one of our expert attorneys will hear your case.

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