Utah Is 3rd Highest Payout For Dog Bite Settlements
When a dog bites someone, the responsibility falls to the owner. Last year there were 35 cases of dog bites in Summit County that were reported. Utah is third in the nation for the highest dog bite settlement payouts.
Director of Summit County Animal Control, Stacy Gunn says so far this year, they’ve received 18 reports of dog bites. State law requires that dogs go into quarantine if they bite a human or another animal.
“If a dog bites another person or another animal, we’ll go out and the animal control officer will do an investigation and speak with all witnesses. We’ll check for vaccinations, if they’ve had their vaccinations for rabies shots. And, then a quarantine will happen, which is a 10-day. And, once that occurs and that’s over, then a citation is normally served to the owner of the dog for the dog biting.”
It doesn’t matter if you are on your own property or if your dog is leashed, the liability falls with the owner. Even if the vaccination records are current, the dog still goes into a 10-day quarantine.
“For one, it’s the policy and it’s just for the observation time. We want to make sure the dog does not have rabies. So, that’s what the 10-days is for.”
Gunn says dog owners have responsibility to follow the animal control laws and they could be cited for a variety of infractions.
“A citation is like a ticket for a violation. So, it could be numerous things. If it’s not a dog bite, it could be a violation for the dog running at large. It could be a violation of a nuisance barking. It could be a violation of cruelty. It could be any of those. But, it’s the same citation. And once you’re served a citation, you have a right to make a plea. If you plead guilty to your citation, then you just pay the fine. If you plead not guilty, that’s when you get your day in court. You can schedule a time to go in to speak with a judge.”
Gunn says if the dog bite victim choses not to pursue charges, officers will not cite the owner but in Gunn’s 21 years in animal control work, she says that circumstance is very rare.
She says most bites are happening on the trails. In the off-leash parks around the county, owners must maintain constant control of their dogs.
“It’s very important that people know, that even if you’re on an off-leash dog trail or you’re in an off-leash dog park, you have to be in sight and in voice control of that animal at all times.”
Statistics showing dog bite settlements nationwide were published by Lending Tree last month.