Dangerous Dogs – People love their pit bulls but they make an awful mess when they bite

NeuwirthLawCase Matters, Dogs & Pet Related Law

I settled a case recently for $300,000 involving a really savage bite by a pit bull. The dog had never bitten anyone before, but his bite was so bad that it took a year to heal, left my client with permanent cramping in her torn muscle, and it looked like she had been bitten by jaws. The dog was, of course, named Hercules.

Pit bulls are loved by their owners as I hear in every dog bite case I handle with serious injuries. However, for the most part, they are not used by police forces for two reasons that directly intersect with my cases. They have a strong prey drive and a very forceful bite. This means that unlike a german shepherd or other similar dogs, they have a crushing bite that causes injury regardless of situation and they attack like predator to prey rather than working dogs doing a job to subdue. Most articles about pit bull training reveal that police don’t use them because they are hard to train, hard to restrain, and do unacceptable damage when they engage someone. Same goes for rottweilers if you want another breed.

One of the unfortunate things about having a pit bull is that they are scary looking to a lot of people on the street and other dogs. This provokes a sense of fear or prey to the dog and the dog reverts to its predatory nature. So, well-meaning owners then don’t walk or socialize the dogs and instead keep them inside or in a fenced yard. Then, when the dog is faced with an unusual situation or a stranger, the dog has pent up energy and attacks the stranger in the situation. Plus, the attack is very damaging.

This combination of lack of socialization, viciousness, and an on/off switch that does not see shades of gray is what makes these animals a common source of personal injury cases.

I usually do not take cases where the only injury is a puncture of series of punctures unless children are involved. Further, it is rare that a dog bite case has to go into suit. This case actually went into suit and through depositions because of the severity of the injuries and other factors like the available coverage. Like most dog bite cases, I think everyone involved knew the case would settle eventually. The only question was when it would settle and for how much.