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Stockton Dog Attack Injures Two County Animal Control Officers

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Two Stockton animal control officers were bitten by a pit-bull that jumped out of the open window and attacked them even as they were investigating a report of the same dog attacking and biting a girl, the Stockton Record reports .

The unprovoked dog attack happened when the two county officers, who have not been identified, arrived at the home on the 200 block of South Walker Lane in unincorporated east Stockton. The California dog bite happened after the canine jumped out of an open window and attacked the workers causing deep puncture wounds in the arm and midsection of one of the officers. Ernest Molieri, manager at the San Joaquin County Animal Control Division called this the worst dog attack on county animal control officers in recent memory. Both officers were treated and released from a local hospital.

The San Joaquin County has begun proceedings to designate this pit-bull as a “dangerous dog” and it has been quarantined in the animal shelter as required by California law.
This pit-bull should clearly have been restrained by the dog’s owner. Both times, the dog jumped out of an open window and attacked its victims unprovoked.

Under Stockton’s “Vicious Dog Regulation Ordinance any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior thirty-six (36) month period, engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury … can be labeled as a potentially dangerous dog. This process includes a public hearing for evidence after which the city determines if a dog is dangerous. It’ll be interesting to know if the pit bull that attacked the Stockton animal control officers had been determined to be potentially dangerous by another jurisdiction. Then, owning or even keeping this dog in Stockton becomes illegal.

I’ve no doubt this pit bull will be listed by Stockton as a dangerous dog and its owner will soon have to follow the city’s requirements for his dog’s confinement and micro chipping and sterilizing it. He’ll also have to post warning signage and open his property to city inspections for compliance.

The two animal control officers have their workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and time off of work due to this incident as well as their right to sue the dog’s owner and possibly the owner of the house if they are different people. Under California law the owner of the dog is strictly liable for the damages the dog caused. “Strictly liable” means that there is no requirement to prove any negligence on the dog owner’s part. In a claim against the property owner, if they are different people, the officers would have to prove that the property owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous, probably not hard to prove in this case.

If the dog’s owner also owns the home, his/her homeowners’ insurance policy will cover the claim, unless there was exclusion in the insurance policy.

Might be a good idea for the officers to arrange a consultation with an attorney skilled in dog attack cases. The best law firms will not charge for such a consultation.

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