In late January 2017, it was reported that a 96-year-old woman was attacked by two pit bulls while she was near her home in Philadelphia. While the woman survived the attack, she was in critical condition later that day and the police and or family have not offered any updates. The neighbors who saw the attack said that one of the dogs could belong to a neighbor of the victim, but details on the case are still not being released.

This is not the first time that the dog bite laws in Philadelphia have been put into the spotlight due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding a dog attack. When something like this happens, people often feel bad for the victim but have no idea what the victim can do to get justice. What happens when a dog bites a person or domesticated pet in Philadelphia? What dogs should people be watching out for, and what are the legal ramifications of dog bites?

Pit bull behind fence

Pit Bulls Are Identified As One Of The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds

It should be noted from the start that not every dog in every breed will attack unprovoked. Dogs are either trained to attack, or they are never taught the proper skills needed to live in a neighborhood with people and other pets. While we will be looking at the two deadliest breeds of dogs, it is important to remember that not every one of the dogs in these breeds is a danger to people or pets.

According to, the two most dangerous breeds of dog in the United States are pit bull terriers and rottweilers. These two breeds were responsible for three out of every four fatal dog attacks on humans from 2005 to 2015. From 1982 to 2014, pit bull terriers and rottweilers were responsible for 67 percent of all human deaths from dog attacks in the United States and Canada.

The numbers show that pit bull terriers are twice as likely to attack a human than a rottweiler. Both breeds are incredibly strong, can attack without provocation or warning, and are often bred for fighting. The confusion sets in when people also realize that both of these breeds can also be house pets, if they are raised properly and not specifically bred for fighting. However, as a general rule, humans and domestic pets are advised to avoid both of these breeds if they are seen wandering the streets without a leash.

The Legal Side of Dog Bites

In Philadelphia, a dog owner is expected to have their pet restrained at all times within the confines of their property. If an owner does not properly restrain their dog and the dog jumps the fence and bites someone, then the owner may be liable for the medical costs associated with the attack.

If the injury is considered severe, then the victim can sue the owner for pain and suffering as well as lost income and medical costs. If the injury is not considered severe, then the victim can only sue for lost income and medical costs. In cases of severe injuries, even for dogs that attack for the first time, the courts could rule to have the dog put down.

If a dog is provoked by the victim in any way or somebody releases the dog from its confines without the owner’s knowledge, then the owner is not liable for any damages. However, the dog could still be held by the dog warden or the police until the investigation is over. If it is determined that the animal needs to be put down, then the owner will pay the holding costs and the costs associated with euthanizing the dog.

Dogs With Violent Histories

Dog with teeth out

If the dog in question has a history of attacking people or other pets, then a victim can sue for pain and suffering, along with medical costs and lost income. A dog with a significant history of violence could be considered a dangerous dog by the law, and the owner would be charged with a misdemeanor for harboring a dangerous dog.

The 96-year-old victim in January’s dog attack may be able to seek justice and compensation if the police can track down the dogs’ owner or owners. Until then, her family hopes that she does not become another statistic in Philadelphia’s growing concern over violent and dangerous dogs.