How To Report A Dog Bite In San Diego County

Table of Contents

    The term “lifelong friend” is often used to describe dogs. Unfortunately, even the friendliest pets can turn into a potential threat. Whether intentional or not, dog bites can happen anywhere at any given time. When it does occur, victims and owners alike should know how to report the incident as soon as possible.

    Dog bites are mostly unpredictable, owing to the fact that these animals, particularly those neglected by their owners, can be quite unpredictable themselves. Dog attacks usually happen when the dog experiences extreme fear or pain. It might also attack if they feel the need to protect something, like their home, puppies, human family members, or food. Additionally, dogs may bite when overexcited while playing with other animals or when their surroundings overstimulate them.

    Dogs in these triggering situations might be aggressive toward people, causing bodily injuries, emotional trauma, and even legal consequences. Residents in San Diego County can hold negligent pet owners accountable by reporting the dog bite to the right government agency.

    How Do I Report A Dog Bite In San Diego?

    Before you do anything else, you must first ensure your safety. In case of an attack, make sure to move away from the animal as far as possible. You might feel shocked and terrified of what may happen next. While that’s normal and expected, be assured that help is available. In the meantime, it’s best to stay calm so you’ll know what to do after.

    Report a dog bite incident immediately to the County of San Diego Animal Services by following these steps:

    Call The Emergency Hotline

    For serious dog bite cases and life-threatening incidents, contact 911 immediately. You can also directly call (619) 236-2341, the hotline for San Diego’s 24/7 animal services office. A team of first-aid responders will act on your situation quickly and provide the medical treatment you need.

    Avoid sending an email if you need immediate help.

    If the emergency has passed, you can also take the following steps to report a dog bite:

    1. Visit their animal control offices in various unincorporated towns and cities. Their usual hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mondays through Fridays.
    Provide Relevant Information

    Reporting a dog bite accident in San DiegoWhen reporting a dog bite accident in San Diego County, provide crucial information like the date, time, and location of the attack. If you have any photos or videos related to the incident, sharing them with the authorities can also help them understand the situation. These visuals can provide important information about the dog’s physical characteristics, behavior, and the events leading up to the attack.

    The animal control office will also need other information to create an incident report, including important details about:

    • The dog ownerOfficers need the following information to verify the details of the incident, confirm their ownership, and investigate further:
      • Name
      • Address
      • Phone Number
    • The dog that bit youHaving these details would help the investigation proceed more smoothly:
      • Breed
      • Sex
      • Name
      • Color
      • Age

    However, many victims aren’t knowledgeable about dog breeds, and some don’t stick around to find out things like the dog’s name and age.

    At the very least, you can provide basic information like the dog’s size, the characteristics of its coat, the color, and other features you might have noticed. This will help the investigators find the dog if you don’t know who the owner is.

    Present Witness Testimonies

    Presenting witness accounts can strengthen your report of the dog attack in San Diego County. Eyewitnesses can help establish the circumstances of the incident, identify the dog and its owner, and provide details of the ensuing events.

    Having witnesses can be an advantage, especially if there are disputes among the involved parties. They can also support your claim later on, especially if the incident leads to a lawsuit.

    Note Down The Record Number

    After finishing your report, take note of the record number assigned to your case. You can also ask for the name of the animal control officer who assisted you. You may use these details to ask for updates about your report.

    What If A Stray Dog Bit Me?

    Not all dogs walk with an owner. Many of them are wandering freely in the streets and alleyways. If a street dog bit you, you can still make a report with the following information:

    • The dog’s physical characteristics (size, color, fur, etc.)
    • Where, when, and how the attack happened
    • Photos and videos of the dog and the location where the attack occurred

    It’s highly possible that no one would want to claim ownership of the dog. Regardless, make sure to coordinate with the authorities to help track down the owner if the dog has one. They usually do this by obtaining government records and the testimonies of witnesses.

    Thorough investigations can often uncover the liable parties. Even street dogs might have handlers who are temporarily or permanently responsible for them. Some examples are:

    • Animal shelters that allowed the dog to escape
    • Pet-sitters who were supposed to watch the dogs while their owners were away
    • Property managers who allowed their tenants’ dogs to run free
    • Concerned citizens who fed or pampered stray dogs

    Determining the owners of the dog that bit you gets more crucial when you decide to pursue a legal claim.

    What Is Considered A Dog Bite?

    Dog bite marks on a persons legDog bites don’t need to break the skin or draw blood to be considered as such. In court rulings within the state, victims have won without any puncture wounds as long as they were able to demonstrate that the animal closed their jaw around a body part. We can refer to the dog bite scale developed by Dr. Ian Dunbar, a renowned veterinarian. It encompasses six levels:

    • Level 1 – The dog displays “obnoxious or aggressive” behavior without biting.
    • Level 2 – The dog bites with its teeth but doesn’t pierce the skin; nicks and slight bleeding might be present.
    • Level 3 – One dog bite causes one to four punctures and penetrates the skin not deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.
    • Level 4 – One dog bite leads to one to four punctures and penetrates the skin deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. It may also result in bruising around the wound.
    • Level 5 – The dog bites or attacks a victim multiple times, resulting in one or more wounds with varying degrees of penetration. There must be a Level 4 bite in each instance.
    • Level 6 – The dog attack results in the death of a victim.

    Levels 1 and 2 account for 99% of dog bite accidents. These incidents are likely the result of fear and rough play. According to Dr. Dunbar, dogs that display these behaviors can usually be trained and disciplined. The same goes for level 3 cases, although training could take longer.

    However, those that cause level 4 to level 6 injuries are already considered very dangerous. These animals have poor bite inhibition, which means they are unable to control the strength of their bite. At this stage, training is usually not an effective option. In severe cases, the animal control office may recommend euthanasia.

    Dog Ownership In San Diego County

    San Diego County is known as an animal-inclusive place. The San Diego Humane Society has different programs aimed at nurturing human-animal bonds. It educates its communities about proper animal treatment while also assisting families who keep pets like dogs.

    For years, the place has provided lifesaving care to over 40,000 animals, of which 12,612 are wildlife. It also welcomed 44,483 animals, placed 29,474 pets in new homes, and addressed 38,696 animal-related calls. Given its relevant efforts to maintain a safe community for animals, it’s no wonder why pets, especially dogs, continue to thrive in the county.

    Currently, San Diego County features several off-leash parks where pet owners take their dogs for walks without any restraints, such as:

    Residents also enjoy strolling with their furry buddies on the shores of Ocean Beach, Mission Bay, Coronado, and Del Mar.

    Considering the availability of dog-friendly spaces, dog bite reports have also increased. Attacks can happen anywhere; you can get bitten at a dog park, along the street, in a store, or even inside someone’s home.

    In early 2024, San Diego’s emergency services responded to a call at a residence in City Heights, where a pitbull bit its owner’s nephew in the face. In Oceanside, a beloved school custodian was attacked outside his home, sustaining serious injuries.

    What’s more unfortunate is that these animals don’t choose their victims, as even toddlers and law enforcement officers are not exempt from their attacks.

    Who Should Report Dog Bites?

    Reporting dog bites isn’t only the responsibility of one individual. Under California law, the following parties must also notify the animal control officers about dog bite accidents:

    • Dog Bite Victims – The dog bite victim should immediately report the incident to the animal control agency. This ensures proper treatment for the victim and holds the dog owner accountable for their pet’s actions.
    • Dog Owners – The liable person—the dog owner—must also let the health officers know about the same incident. If they don’t make a report, they may be found guilty of a misdemeanor in accordance with San Diego County Code Article 62, Section 615.
    • Medical Professionals – The Code of Regulations Title 17 Section 2606 explicitly mandates healthcare professionals to inform the relevant local health departments or animal control agencies about dog bites, especially in areas with reported cases of rabies.

    With the implementation of the dog bite laws, San Diego County hopes to contain the spread of rabies and safeguard public health. It also helps the government enforce additional preventive efforts to ease the number of dog bite cases.

    Do Dog Bites Need To Be Reported In California?

    Do dog bites need to be reported in CaliforniaYes, you must report dog bites and animal attacks to the agency handling these cases. Still, some individuals choose not to report dog bites in San Diego County. Many of them want to avoid conflict with dog owners, who are also their friends or family. Others couldn’t be bothered to file a report.

    However, reporting attacks is crucial not only in holding the owner accountable but also in keeping the entire community safe. You might be asking, “Why should I report if a dog bites me?” Here’s why.

    The most important benefit of reporting a dog bite is rabies control. It allows authorities to enforce quarantine rules to see if the dog has rabies. San Diego’s Animal Services might quarantine the animal in a facility of their choosing. In some cases, they allow the owner to isolate their pet at home instead. With these precautions, authorities can quickly implement safety measures if a dog is found to have rabies.

    Moreover, the ensuing investigation can help identify any past cases of violence and law violations. If the dog’s history includes multiple attacks and other issues, it could be declared a “public nuisance animal” or a “dangerous dog.” When this happens, the animal might be impounded to keep the community safe.

    Filing a report could also uncover some concerning issues within the dog’s home. When an officer investigates, they might discover cases of abuse, cruelty, or neglect, which are punishable by imprisonment or a fine.

    Having an accurate account of dog bite cases enables San Diego County to make better public decisions. It might prompt the government to intensify certain laws, enact more rules, and address persisting issues, if any.

    Other Steps To Take After Reporting A Dog Bite

    Protecting your legal rights doesn’t end after you report a dog bite accident in San Diego County. It would also help to take the following steps:

    Seek Medical Attention

    If you haven’t already, go to the ER or visit the nearest center handling animal bite cases. Even if you don’t think that the attack drew blood, you still have to get checked. A dog bite can lead to infections and other serious medical conditions.

    Medical professionals might prescribe antibiotics and a tetanus shot, especially if you haven’t had one in the past ten years. They might also recommend surgery if the wounds are deep and wide enough.

    Most importantly, you might need to get rabies shots. For it to be effective, you should get the first one within 72 hours after the injury.

    Keep Documenting Your Injury

    If you want to pursue a claim later on, you must keep comprehensive documentation of your injury, including:

    • Photos & videos as visual proof of the severity and progression of your wounds
    • A copy of your medical report
    • The clothing that was torn during the attack
    • History of the dog
    Follow Up On The Progress Of Your Case

    Use the case number to follow up on your case. You can ask if the responsible party has already coordinated with the animal control office, which they are required to do.

    Follow up on the office’s investigation consistently. You must know sooner or later whether the dog that bit you was vicious or potentially dangerous. When you decide to pursue legal action, you can highlight this finding.

    Contact A Dog Bite Lawyer

    One question dog bite victims commonly have is, “Do I need a personal injury lawyer in San Diego County?”

    The short answer is yes. A law firm that specializes in this area, like Arash Law, can guide you through the applicable regulations. We’ll help you file a claim against the dog’s owner or other liable parties if you want to get compensation. The expertise of our attorneys in San Diego can help you recover any losses and damages you sustain in the dog bite accident.

    Statistics Regarding Dog Bites

    Mail carrier being chased and bitten by dogCalifornia and the entire United States are no strangers to dog bites. According to a study by the Insurance Information Institute (III), about 800,000 people require medical attention each year as a result of dog bites, which affect over 4.5 million people. Accordingly, most of these incidents occur on private properties and comprise one-third of homeowner’s insurance liability claims.

    Mail carriers are among the most common victims. In 2020, the U.S. Postal Service revealed that over 5,800 of its employees were attacked by dogs while delivering mail.

    In San Diego County alone, the animal services office examines more than 6,000 dog bites annually. These accidents lead to various injuries, like scratches, concussions, fractures, amputations, muscle tears, and disfigurement. These could require surgeries and treatments, depending on the severity. The worst dog attacks can lead to the death of victims.

    Important Resources For San Diego Dog Attack Incidents

    County of San Diego Department of Animal Services – North Shelter

    • Contact Number: (619) 767-2675
    • Address: 2481 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011
    • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

    County of San Diego Department of Animal Services – South Shelter

    • Contact Number: (619) 767-2675
    • Address: 5821 Sweetwater Rd., Bonita, CA 91902
    • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

    Chula Vista Animal Care Facility

    • Contact Number: (619) 691-5123
    • Address: 130 Beyer Way, Chula Vista, CA 91911
    • Hours: Tuesday to Friday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
      Saturday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

    San Diego Humane Society

    • Phone: (619) 299-7012
    • Email:
    • Mailing Address: 5500 Gaines St., San Diego, CA 92110

    Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter

    • Contact Number: (760)725-8120
    • Address: Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, CA 92055
    • Hours: Monday to Friday – 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
      Saturday – 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM
      Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM

    La Mesa Animal Control

    • Contact Number: (619)667-7536
    • Address: 8085 University Avenue, La Mesa, CA 91942
    • Hours: Monday to Friday – 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

    El Cajón Animal Control

    • Contact Number: (619)441-1580
    • Address: 1373 N. Marshall Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92021
    • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

    Coronado Animal Services

    • Contact Number: (619)522-7350
    • Address: 1395 First Street, Coronado, CA 92118
    • Hours: Sunday to Monday – 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM

    National City Animal Control

    • Contact Number: (619)336-4478
    • Address: 1200 National City Boulevard, National City, CA 91950
    • Hours: Monday to Friday – 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Can I Sue The Owner Of The Dog That Bit Me?

    Yes. According to California Civil Code Section 3342, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for compensating the victim. As long as you were in a public place or legally in a private place when the incident occurred, you can file a claim.

    How Much Can I Claim For A Dog Bite?

    The actual value of your dog bite accident would depend on several factors, such as the extent of your injuries and the maximum policy limits. To give you an idea, the average payout for dog bites in California is $51,264.6 over 2,396 claims.

    Can I Sue Even For A Minor Dog Bite?

    Yes. The severity of your injury should not matter. You can sue even for a minor dog bite. If you’re unsure, you can fill out our “Do I Have A Case?” form, and one of our legal staff will get back to you. You can also call us with any questions or concerns about your case.

    Contact The Most Reliable Dog Bite Lawyers San Diego Counts On

    Victims of dog bites in San Diego County are required by California law to report the incident to the animal services office. However, reporting the accident may not be enough, especially since dog bites can cause several physical, emotional, and financial damages. You might also want to seek justice and recover your losses. Arash Law can be your reliable ally in this pursuit.

    Having our San Diego dog bite lawyers on your side can give you a much better chance of achieving your goals after the incident. We have over 30 years of combined experience dealing with these cases. Thus, our specialized expertise will be an advantage in obtaining the highest possible compensation for all your losses.

    Call our law firm in San Diego at (888) 488-1391 for a free initial consultation. You can also contact us by completing our online form.

    Our personal injury lawyers, led by the esteemed Arash Khorsandi, Esq., will respond as soon as they can. We will review your legal grounds and assist you in filing your claim. You won’t have to pay for upfront costs, as we work on a contingency fee basis.

    Our quality legal services are also available for residents from neighboring locations, such as Poway, Santee, Lakeside, Bostonia, El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, Solana Beach, La Presa, Ramona, Escondido, and National City.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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