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Vicious dog in the neighborhood?

Take action before the dog bites someone. (Or attacks again.) 

Arizona is a strict liability state for dog bites. Dog owners are liable for any injuries their pets inflict. It's great that this remedy exists to compensate victims of dog attacks. But maybe it should never come to that point.

While there is no law against owning a "dangerous breed" as a pet, Maricopa County does provide remedies when individual dogs have bitten people or displayed vicious behavior. It may be up to you to make sure that your neighborhood is safe from a menacing dog.


No dangerous breeds, just dangerous dogs

In some states, certain breeds like pit bulls are prohibited because of their supposed propensity for violence. As of 2016, Arizona is one of a handful of "preemption" states that prevents communities from enacting breed-specific ordinances. Don't punish the whole breed because of a few bad apples.

But the fact remains that dogs sometimes attack, from Rottweilers to retrievers. Maricopa County protects citizens from dangerous dogs.

  • Ordinance requires that all dog bites be reported to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC). Give a description - breed (if known) and size, color and markings, location of the attack, owner (if known).  
  • The MCAAC also encourages citizens to report other incidents or potentially dangerous dogs. This includes non-bite attacks and menacing behavior, such as a dog that chased children, a dog that attacked other pets or a chained dog that growls and lunges at passersby. Also report stray dogs, dogs loose on school grounds and leash law violations. Report a bite or incident.  
  • After a report of a dog bite, the dog must be quarantined for 10 days as a rabies precaution. The MCAAC can remove the dog from the home or it may allow the dog to be confined at the owner's residence. The owner must pay any quarantine costs.  
  • Dog bite victims and concerned neighbors can file a vicious dog petition. The MCAAC determines whether the animal is vicious. If the dog is deemed to pose no public threat, it is released to the owner after quarantine.  
  • If the dog is deemed vicious, the MCAAC can impose a range of measures, up to and including euthanization. Short of putting the dog down, the owner might be required to post "dangerous dog" signage, purchase liability insurance, have the dog spayed or neutered and/or keep their pet indoors or in a locked pen.

If a bite or attack occurs ...

Remember, owners are presumed liable for dog bites and attacks, even if the incident occurs on the owner's property or while the dog is on a leash, and even if the dog has never acted viciously in the past. The only defenses are provocation or trespassing. Otherwise dog owners must compensate victims for their injuries and losses. A personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and help to secure full and timely damages.

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