Pennsylvania law states that a dog owner is liable for all damages when a person is severely attacked, or if a person is attacked and the dog has previously been considered, or been shown to be dangerous. Victims can recover full compensation if a dog owner was negligent or fails to comply with Pennsylvania’s dog laws and regulations.
The CDC states that about 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 5 dog bites become infected.
Since the state of Pennsylvania has dog bite laws in place, you should find a reputable attorney to represent you in your dog bite case.
An overview of Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws
Confinement and control of dogs that are not part of a kennel – § 459-305
The keeper or owner of a dog who fails to follow the stipulations listed below is committing an illegal act. The dog must be:
- Secured with some type of device (e.g., collar and chain, etc.) that prevents the animal from straying beyond the owner’s premises.
- Under the control of an individual, including when the dog is involved in performance events, lawful hunting, field training, or exhibition.
Dog bite victims – § 459-502
- In relation to bite victims, any cost incurred by the victim for medical treatment that resulted from a dog bite/attack must be paid for by the keeper or owner of the dog .
Public safety and penalties – § 459-505-A
- Dog attacks must be reported to one of Pennsylvania’s dog wardens.
Dog bite statistics
- Up to 800,000 people need medical treatment due to dog bites each year
- Every year, about 12 persons die from the injuries they sustained during a dog attack
- State Farm paid a record $118 million for dog-related injury claims in 2015. With 161 of these claims being submitted by individuals in Pennsylvania, our state ranks number four in the top 10 states for injury claims related to dogs in 2015. State Farm paid out nearly $5 million for these 161 Pennsylvania claims in 2015
- Over 30% of dog bite victims are between the ages of 5 and 9
You have been bitten by a dog, now what do you do?
If you have been bitten by a dog, try to avoid panicking. Wash out the wound using soap and warm water. If the injuries sustained are not of immediate concern, contact your general practitioner for advice. In the event that the injuries may be life threatening, you need to go to the nearest emergency room. Keep in mind that any bite that breaks the skin can transmit the rabies virus. Unless treated before symptoms begin, rabies leads to death. Therefore, no matter how small the bite may be, whether or not the offending dog has rabies must be determined as soon as possible.
Symptoms of a serious wound that requires immediate medical attention may include:
- The inability to use the injured body part
- The wound will not stop bleeding
- Extreme pain
- Visible bone and/or muscle
- If you are not sure whether the dog’s rabies vaccination is current, seek medical assistance right away because you may need to receive treatment to prevent a rabies infection
Caring for a deep wound:
- Try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with a clean, dry cloth
- If the bleed is consistent or you begin feeling weak, or faint, immediately call your local emergency medical services
All bites must be reported to one of Pennsylvania’s dog wardens. Therefore, once you are medically stable, contact your county dog warden.
Information the dog warden needs:
- The name of the dog’s owner or keeper
- The address of the owner or keeper
- If the dog responsible for biting you is a stray, give the dog warden specifics related to where you encountered the dog, what the dog looks like, whether you have previously seen the dog, and which direction the dog went after biting you
Other diseases and bacteria that can be passed through a dog bite include:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Capnocytophaga spp
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