According to a study conducted by Michigan State University College of Law, about five million people in the United States fall victim to dog bites every year. Only 800,000 people out of this number have been reported to seek medical treatment for their injuries, while fortunately, only a small fraction of these attacks are fatal.
Since injuries from dog attacks and bites are considered a threat to public health and safety, 39 states, including Illinois have strict laws and special rules in place that put a great deal of emphasis on dog owners to regular their dog’s behavior and train them properly so that they don’t exhibit violent behaviors.
Definition of a Dangerous Dog
A dangerous dog is one that exhibits or engages in actions that put people or animals at risk of injury or death. Here are a few acts and behaviors that can label a dog as dangerous:
- Injures a human being
- Kills a human being
- Is trained or engages in animal fighting
- Aggressively attacks, bites, or endangers a human being or damages private or public property
- Bites or injures a person without being provoked
- Kills or injures a domestic animal, such as livestock, cats, and others, while off the owner’s property
- Attacks a person in a manner that makes them believe the dog posed a serious threat to that person or another person, even if the injury does not occur – however, actions like growling, barking, or bearing teeth does not count.
Understanding how a Dog Transitions from being “Dangerous” into “Vicious”
The Animal Control Act has classified dogs using terms dangerous and vicious, and there are specific laws surrounding these terms that apply on these owners and their dogs.
A dog showing a tendency that it may bite or injure someone in the near future is said to be a dangerous dog. The Animal Control Act defines a dangerous dog as:
- A dog exhibiting behavior that would be threatening while it is not on its owner’s property, unleashed, unmuzzled, or otherwise unattended
- A dog biting or causing a minor physical injury without any justification
For example, a dog that barks at anyone who knocks on the door will not be considered dangerous as it is present on its owner’s property. However, if it jumps on someone on a public sidewalk, it would then be considered dangerous.
If a dog causes a serious bite or physical injury to another person, it is declared a vicious dog. According to the Animal Control Act, a vicious dog is one that:
- Attacks with any justification and causes serious injury or death
- Has been declared a dangerous dog three times on separate occasions
For example, if a dog attacks a person who harmed it or broke inside a home, its actions will not qualify it as a vicious dog because it was provoked.
If you have been bitten or injured by a dangerous or vicious dog, you should consult your case with an experienced Lake County dog bite attorney to see whether Illinois dog bite law applies. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. at (847) 395-2200 or online today to schedule your initial consultation with our firm.