Anyone who has ever been bitten by a dog in the state of Pennsylvania is probably aware of the comprehensive dog bite laws the state offers. As with most responsible laws, Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws protect victims and they protect dog owners from people trying to scam the system.

A dog bite is a serious incident that can leave permanent emotional and physical scars. But losing a dog to a dog bite claim that was fabricated can be just as damaging to an owner. It is important that residents of Pennsylvania know the dog bite laws in their state, and that people recognize when they have a legitimate personal injury lawsuit on their hands.

The Basic Dog Handling Laws In PennsylvaniaDoberman on leash

The dog bite laws in Pennsylvania can be found under the 10-100 chapter of the “Animals” section of state law. In general, the laws state that only cats are allowed to roam the streets without leashes or any other kind of restraint. Dogs are to be kept in their owners’ yards, or they are to be put on leashes that are no longer than six feet. The laws also specifically state that the person walking the dog on a leash must be able to maintain complete control of the dog at all times.

A dog that is found wandering the streets will be picked up by the police or the local animal control officer and held until the owner can be found. If a wandering dog attacks another animal or person, the local authorities have the option of putting the dog down to preserve public safety. Before a dangerous dog can be put down, the authorities must make a reasonable attempt to get a hold of the owner.

What To Know About The Dog In Question

Pennsylvania dog bite laws are based on whether or not the dog in question has bitten a person or attacked a domesticated animal in the past. If a dog’s first attack causes what the local authorities consider to be severe injuries, then the victim can claim medical costs, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, and court costs in their suit. If the injuries are considered to be “non-severe,” then the victim can only sue for medical costs.

Severe injuries are considered lacerations or broken bones, while non-severe injuries are bruises and scrapes. The decision on the severity of the injuries is at the discretion of local courts. This means that the actual guidelines vary from county to county.

It should be noted that dog attacks are not limited to damage done by bites. A dog that jumps on an unsuspecting pedestrian or leaps at a pedestrian’s legs would also be considered a dangerous animal and those injuries would fall under the dog bite laws.

Repeat OffendersDog jumping on leash

If a dog has a history of being aggressive or has already attacked a human or domesticated animal in the past, then the victim can sue for lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering, and court costs regardless of the severity of the injuries. This would also apply to any dogs that have attempted to attack people or domesticated animals in the past but were stopped by their owner or someone else.

When The Dog Is Not To Blame

In every case, the victim would lose the right to sue the owner if it can be proven that the victim provoked the dog, or if the victim was trespassing on the land where the dog lives. The state law recognizes that many people buy dogs to protect their properties, and a trespasser assumes the risks that come with breaking the law when they are illegally on someone else’s property. Part of those risks include the injuries that can come from crossing paths with a guard dog.

As you can imagine, it can be difficult to prove either side of a dog bite story without video evidence. But the dog bite laws in Pennsylvania have been crafted to protect the public from dogs that have histories of attacks, and from vicious dogs who attack for the first time. Victims of dog bites have the law on their side when a dog attacks without provocation or for no other logical reason.