Beware of Dog

On average, 4.5 million people are bitten annually in the United States and over half of dog bite victims are children under the age of 12. 1 out of 5 bites are serious, requiring medical attention and in 2011 alone, over 30,000 people required reconstructive surgery as a result of dog bites.
Last year, 14 people were killed from dog attacks.

Attorney Craig Swapp sat down with Emily and Troy to answer questions about dog attacks!

What are the most common injuries from a dog attack?
Dog bite injuries can range from mild to serious. A dog may nip your finger, or it can cause fatal injuries – depending on the situation. Common injuries that result from dog attacks include puncture wounds, face injuries, eye injuries, and scarring.

Which dogs attack most often?
Top 10 Breeds most likely to be involved with attacks: 1) Pitt Bull 2) Rottweiler, 3) Presa Canario, 4) German Shepherd, 5) Husky, 6) Alaskan Malamute, 7) Doberman, 8) Chow, 9) Great Dane, 10) Saint Bernard

What are common state dog attack laws?
  • Every person that owns or keeps a dog is liable for damages caused by the dog.
  • The plaintiff is not required to prove that the dog was vicious or mischievous or that the owner or keeper knew of its propensities.
  • The amount of liability is determined by comparative fault. Therefore, any fault on the part of the injured person may reduce the amount of damages awarded.
  • Where any injury has been committed by two or more dogs acting together and such dogs are owned or kept by different persons, all such persons are considered liable.

What about local leash laws?
Specific leash laws are dictated by city or county ordinances. Here is a common local leash law:
  • Every dog shall be leashed at all times except only when it is inside the residence of its owner, or upon the property of its owner that is enclosed by a fence. A dog will be considered to be leashed only when the leash is six feet or less in length or is a retractable leash, and is being grasped by an adult (provided that if the dog is less than 20 pounds then the leash may be grasped by a person who is competent to handle the dog and is over 12 years of age.)
  • If you are walking your dog without a leash, and your city or county has a leash law, you can be held responsible for anything bad that happens as a result of your dog being off the leash. If it chased a child who was riding a bicycle, and caused the child to have an accident by falling off the bike or crashing into something, you would be held liable for that.
What about fenced dogs?
A dog shall not be considered enclosed by a fence when and if the dog can pass through, under or over the fence, or the gate of the fence is not securely latched. A dog that can snap or bite a person through a fence shall not be considered enclosed by the fence. An electronic fence shall not be considered to be a fence, and an electronic leash shall not be considered to be a leash.

What if a person provokes a dog?
If the dog was provoked, the owner is generally not liable. Provocation need not be malicious. Accidentally stepping on the dog's tail or attempting to hug a strange dog may be sufficient to prove provocation.

What if you have a “Beware of Dog” Sign?
Ignoring a "Beware of Dog" sign and entering a dog's enclosure are common ways that a victim may assume risk. Exceptions may include small children who cannot read or poor placement of the sign.

What if I am bitten while caring for someone’s dog?
Those who work with dogs, such as kennel keepers and groomers, are generally assumed to have voluntarily accepted the risk of injury. Taking on caretaking responsibilities (such as caring for a friend's dog during a vacation) may also count as voluntary assumption of risk.

What if someone trespasses on my property without my permission?
In most jurisdictions, trespassing on the part of the victim is a legal defense. However, trespassing laws are not always simple. Unless there are fences and warning signs across the property, an implied invitation for salespeople and others to approach the front door may be assumed. A child entering the fenced back yard generally constitutes trespassing, unless your jurisdiction has attractive nuisance laws. A dog, like a swimming pool, may be considered an attractive nuisance. In that case, the homeowner is responsible for securing the property to prevent injury to children.

What if I am bitten when invited into someone’s home?
A general rule is that a dog owner who could reasonably expect someone to be on the property is probably going to be liable for any injury that person suffers. This rule is particularly important when it comes to children. Even a dog owner who does not explicitly invite a neighborhood child onto the property will probably be held liable if it's reasonable to know the child is likely to wander in—and dogs are a big attraction to children. In other words, there is a legal responsibility either to prevent the child from coming on the property or to keep the dog from injuring the child.

What if a dog attacks my pets?
Those who own, harbor or keep a dog may be held responsible if it harms another domestic animal or a farm animal. Liability depends on whether there was negligence, a violation of an animal control law (such as a leash law). A dog owner can be held responsible for his negligence if he does something unreasonable with this dog or fails to take a reasonable precaution. For example, if you own a dog that has the tendency to attack other dogs, it would be unreasonable for you to bring that dog into a dog park. Therefore if your dog attacked another dog in a dog park, the owner of the other dog could hold you responsible for negligence.

To learn more about Craig Swapp and the services offered by his office visit his website or office:
9980 S. 300 W., Ste. 400
P.O. Box 709390
Sandy, UT 84070-9390 - See more at:

9980 S. 300 W., Ste. 400
P.O. Box 709390
Sandy, UT 84070-9390 - See more at:
9980 S. 300 W., Ste. 400
P.O. Box 709390
Sandy, UT 84070-9390
9980 S. 300 W., Ste. 400
P.O. Box 709390
Sandy, UT 84070-9390 - See more at:

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News

Video Center