Dogs are known as man’s best friend. However, they can sometimes be man’s enemy as well.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. With almost 40 percent of American households owning one or more dogs, it is important for dog owners to understand their liability when it comes to dog bites.
Illinois provides specific provisions in the Animal Control Act as to what constitutes a dangerous dog, including:
- Any dog that “behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or a companion animal.”
- A dog that “without justification, bites a person and does not cause serious physical injury.”
A member of law enforcement or animal control can determine whether a dog is dangerous or not. If they determine a dog is dangerous, owners must immediately neuter or spay the dog and put an identification chip in their dog. Additionally, dangerous dog owners must supervise their dog in public, and the dog may have to wear a muzzle in public spaces.
Illinois dog laws state a dog can be found vicious if it is deemed dangerous at least three times, or it causes someone serious bodily injury or death. After a bite, an owner of a potentially vicious dog will receive written notice of the potential vicious determination and an investigation will lead to the final decision.
If the investigation finds the animal is vicious, the owner must confine the animal to a 6-foot-high enclosure that prohibits the dog from leaving. Vicious dogs can only leave their confinement to go to the vet or with the permission of a court, and they must be on a 3-foot leash with a muzzle at all times. If the owner does comply, the owner may be subject to felonies and the dog will likely be taken to the pound. An owner of an impounded dog must file an appeal within 15 days, or the dog can face euthanasia.
While these measures should protect people from dangerous or vicious dogs, incidents can still happen. If you suffer a dog bite, consider speaking with a legal representative who has experience in dog bite lawsuits.