What to Do When Bitten By A Rescue Dog 

Rescue dogs can be a challenge. Some dogs are more resilient than others. Foreign rescue dogs that are not socialized or bred to be pets may require special handling, medication, and training. 

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health reported that behavior specialists recommend treating dogs’ behavioral disorders with antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. The medication is most effective when combined with behavior modification training by an experienced animal behaviorist. According to the ASPCA, there’s no guarantee that an aggressive dog can be completely “cured.” 

If you or a loved one was bitten by someone else’s dog, you may hesitate to file a claim against the dog’s owner—particularly if the owner is a friend or neighbor who took in a rescue dog out of the kindness of his or her heart. However, if the dog’s owner has homeowner’s insurance, it’s the insurance company that must pay you—not the dog’s owner.

Even if the dog was a rescue dog whose aggressive tendencies weren’t known to its owner, the owner is still legally responsible for the dog’s conduct. Call or email Slater & Zurz dedicated dog bite lawyers for a free consultation. We’ll let you know what your rights are, and what you can expect if you file a claim against the dog’s owner. There’s no obligation, and if we take your case, we won’t charge anything unless we obtain a judgment or settlement in your favor.

Adopting a rescue dog can have a happy ending

Taking in a rescue dog need not end in disaster. Here are some tips:

  • Ask the shelter about the dog’s background and health before taking it home. Animal shelters want new pet owners to have a positive experience, and will often gather as much information as they can about the dog’s temperament and personality.
  • If you have small children, consider the size of any dog you may adopt. Ask the shelter how the dog reacts to children.
  • If you have young children, do you really want that pit bull despite pit bulls’ general propensity for aggression?
  • Get to know the dog at the shelter: how does it respond to your voice and to your attempt to pet it? Does it cower in a corner away from you, or does it wag its tail and appear happy to see you?

In March 2019, a police department adopted a rescue dog—not for police work such as sniffing out drugs or tracking felons, but to improve morale at the station. The snagletoothed dog, whose back leg pops up like a turkey timer whenever she sits down, offered the kind of comfort only a dog can give. When officers return from a difficult call, they’re now greeted by a wagging tail and request for belly rubs.

In another case, a woman saw a rescue dog that reminded her of a childhood pet her parents had been forced to surrender when she was 14. The dog’s barking had interfered with one parent’s at-home customer service phone work. Seven years later, with a family of her own, the woman adopted the rescue dog, only to discover later, from a microchip, that the rescue dog was her childhood pet!  

When Rescue Dogs Attack . . .

On November 1, 2019, in Clearcreek Township, Ohio, 49-year-old Mary Matthews was attacked and killed by her rescue dogs. She and her husband Mark had adopted the Great Danes in 2017. 

One of the dogs had begun acting aggressively a few weeks prior to the attack. After being bitten, Mark wanted to get rid of the dogs, but his wife disagreed. She liked to rescue animals that were going to be put down. In an ironic twist of fate, the dogs she saved from death were the ones that took her life.

Mary suffered multiple bites on her legs and other serious injuries. There was evidence that she had tried to defend herself, had tried to wipe up blood from the floor, and had changed her clothes. Her husband and son found her bloodied body on a bathroom floor in their home. Mark hopes that other people learn from what happened to his family, and seek help if their pets become aggressive, noting that an aggressive dog may be “a ticking time bomb.”

Heed the warning signs of aggression to avoid being attacked.

To protect yourself and your family, be proactive in identifying the signs of an aggressive dog. According to Dr. Lilly, aggression is often preceded by signs of fear, either right before the incident, or in prior similar contexts. A tucked tail, wide eyes, side-eye or whale eye, a stiff body posture, raised hackles, growling, or barking all suggest that the dog isn’t comfortable. If those signals are ignored, they may escalate to a bite or attack. 

For a short video showing dogs’ body language and the signs of potential aggression to look for, click here. We recommend showing it to your children—it’s “kid-friendly” and could help them stay safe.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by someone else’s dog, trust a full-service dog bite law firm to help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog, you deserve to be compensated. Although it’s rare, even a dog that knows you and is usually friendly can react in an unanticipated manner with tragic results. After being bitten, seek medical treatment and report the incident. Then reach out to a full-service dog bite law firm with the resources to build a winning case and the proven ability to succeed. 

Like so many others who have placed their trust in us, you can count on Slater & Zurz dog bite attorneys to thoroughly evaluate your claim, answer any questions you may have, and craft a strategy tailored to meet your needs, based on your circumstances and the expertise we’ve developed over the years handling dog bite cases. We know how to win and we’ll do what it takes. Call or email our team of experienced dog bite attorneys for a free consultation. If we take your case, we don’t get paid unless you get paid. We’re here to serve your legal needs with compassion, perseverance, and the drive to win for you.  


Feature Image by Meli1670 from Pixabay