Arizona Dog Bite Law Euthanasia

October 7, 2019

Dog bites can be devastating personal injuries. Dog bites have killed hundreds of victims in the U.S. over the years. Animal attacks have caused thousands of life-altering personal injuries. One of the most common questions asked after a serious dog bite incident in Arizona is, “Will the city put the dog down?” Whether you are a dog bite victim or a pet owner, it is important to know where Arizona stands on dog euthanasia laws after attacks. That’s why our Phoenix personal injury attorneys have put together this resource to answer all your questions.

How Animal Control Responds to Dog Attacks

A dog attack victim should call the local animal control center for an investigation of the event if the injuries are serious. If the bite punctures the skin, animal control may need to confiscate and quarantine the dog to check for rabies. Different municipalities will handle calls about dog bites differently. In Maricopa County, for example, animal control will arrive on the scene to conduct a rabies assessment of the dog and/or bite victim.

Animal control will only consider humane euthanasia if a dog poses a danger to itself, the pet owner or the general public. Although a dog bite rarely leads to euthanasia of the pet, a pattern of aggressive behavior may be enough to put the dog down. If the dog has bitten two or more people or domestic animals in the past, animal control investigators may euthanize the dog. If the pet has not received its rabies shots, this could also lead to euthanasia if the dog does have rabies.

Investigators primarily want to make sure a dog that has bitten someone does not pose a continued threat to others. If the dog has calmed down after the bite and does not appear to have a history of violence, animal control generally will not intervene. If, however, signs are present that could show the dog will do it again, animal control may require humane euthanasia of the pet or enforce other restrictions, such as requiring the owner to muzzle the dog in public. Safety will be animal control’s top priority.

Rabies and Euthanasia

One of the main reasons the city may put a dog down in Arizona is if it has rabies. Rabies is a serious virus with no known cure. It is commonly spread through animal bites, including that of bats, foxes and raccoons. An unvaccinated dog could contract rabies from a bite from another animal and potentially spread it to others. If animal control investigators notice signs of a dog with possible rabies after a bite incident, they will quarantine the pet to watch for further developments.

Signs a dog could have rabies include sudden aggression, extreme behavioral changes, attack behaviors, muscle weakness and paralysis. Arizona’s Department of Health Services (DHS) will humanely euthanize dogs if they have rabies. If a dog develops signs of rabies within the 10-day mandatory quarantine or tests positive for rabies, the DHS may put the dog down. The DHS will automatically put a wolf/canine hybrid down for rabies testing and brain examination if it bites someone. No approved rabies vaccine exists for wildlife.

Liability for a Dog Bite

If you are a dog owner, do not worry about animal control euthanizing your pet if it bit someone in Arizona. This will not happen in most cases. It could be a possibility, however, if your dog has a long history of violence and prior attacks or if your dog has contracted rabies. If you are the victim of a dog bite, call animal control to investigate. Animal control can help you hold the pet owner accountable for your damages.

In Arizona, a pet owner will be strictly liable for dog bites. It is not necessary to prove the owner was negligent in the control of his or her pet. Your lawyer must only show that a dog bite caused your injuries and that you were not breaking the law or provoking the pet at the time of the incident. Hire a dog bite lawyer in Phoenix if you need assistance filing an injury claim against a pet owner in Arizona.