On Thursday, January 27th, a guest at Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort was attacked by another patron’s dog, causing severe injuries. Washoe County Regional Animal Services has asked the public’s help in finding those involved in the attack but has identified the dog as being a pitfall.  Dog Bites are a serious issue, and while dogs are man’s best friend, an aggressive dog can cause a victim serious injury. The Center for Disease Control Reports that there are 4.5 million dog bites annually, and an average of 1 dog bite per 73 people . Additionally, in 2018, there were 38 dog bite fatalities recorded in Las Vegas.  Being aware of facts, as well as the Nevada laws regarding dog bites can help protect you and your loved ones, as well as get the proper compensation if you are injured.
Dog Bites and Breeds
When deciding on what breed of dog to purchase for your family, it might be beneficial to consider the demeanor and likelihood of an accident happening. The following are some dog breeds often involved in dog bite accidents:
- American Bulldogs— While American bulldogs are popular choices for family dogs because they are known for being good with children, they do exhibit more aggressive traits when they feel threatened by a stranger.
- Chihuahuas— While they are smaller dogs, they can inflict injury with their sharp teeth. They are very aggressive and often reflect the behavior of their owner. So, if you were to strike someone in front of your chihuahua, they are likely to be defensive and bite the other party.
- Pit bulls— Pit bulls account for about sixty-five percent of dog-related deaths and due to the strength of these dogs, they can accidentally injure a person (especially children), when they are attempting to play with them. They are also a very protective breed and likely to bite any stranger they find suspicious. In 2018, Pit Bulls made up seven percent of the Las Vegas dog population but were responsible for eighty-nine percent of the fatalities.
- German Shepherds— When trained properly and under the care of an experienced dog owner, German shepherds can be loyal and caring pets. However, under someone less experienced, they can establish a more alpha presence which can result in aggressive behavior as well as biting of other animals and strangers.
- Cocker Spaniels— Cocker spaniels are known for having a sweet demeanor, making them a popular family dog. However, some of them suffer from rage syndrome, where they awake from a deep sleep and behave aggressively towards anyone around them.
- For additional information on breeds by bite risk, visit our page on Dog Attacks by Breed.
Who is Responsible for a Dog Attack in Nevada?
If you are a victim of a dog attack, or your dog has attacked someone, it is important to understand who should be held responsible for a dog attack. Unfortunately, Nevada does not have a concrete law which establishes responsibility, so it leaves any clarification to be determined by common law.
In Las Vegas the following steps will occur after an dog bite attack has occurred in the city limits:
- The owner must make contact and report the incident to Las Vegas Animal Control.
- The dog will be put in isolation for 10 days. During this time, Animal Control will ensure that the dog does not have any diseases such as rabies.
- After the isolation period, the dog will be deemed “dangerous” and will then be released to the owner. If this is the second attack, the dog will be deemed “vicious”
- If the dog is deemed “viscous”— Las Vegas does not allow “viscous” dogs within city limits. Additionally, after the dog’s second attack, the owner can be held civilly or criminally responsible depending upon the event. In some cases, the dog may be euthanized.
In the rest of Nevada, liability is often determined by the previous behavior of the dog, and if it has exhibited similar behaviors in the past. If there has been a history of similar, aggressive behavior or attacks, the owner is held liable for any incidents. This is because, if a dog has previously bitten someone, an owner should assume that the dog can potentially behave similarly again. Thus, they should take preventative measures to stop another attack, and if they fail to do so, they are to be held liable.
Additionally, in Nevada, dog bite accidents use comparative negligence to assign blame. This means that blame is represented in percentages, and just because a dog owner is held liable does not mean that the person attacked cannot be held liable either if they were also being aggressive.
If you plan to file a claim to receive compensation for a dog bite accident, you have two years from the day you were attacked. You should be prepared to prove that the dog was dangerous, the owner did not prevent the accident, and the owner took part in the incident and possibly worsened the situation. A personal injury lawyer can help you better understand how to prove these elements, and help you understand if you qualify for compensation.