Keeping a dog on its leash is not just a smart way of ensuring that the pet stays safe, but keeping others safe as well. But what happens when a dog bites a person?

Because Nevada does not have specific statewide dog bite statutes, local ordinances and previous cases are used to determine the outcomes of dog bite situations.

In general, for a dog’s owner to be held responsible for a bite or other related injury, the victim needs to show that the owner did not use reasonable care to prevent the bite, and that that lack of adequate care was the main contributor to the victim’s damages.

“No matter the size of the dog, their bite can inflict great damage to a person,“ stated George T. Bochanis, personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of George T. Bochanis. “Owners need to have complete control over their pets to make sure that the community – pets included – stays safe at all times.”

Unfortunately, approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and up to 20% of those bites caused injuries that needed medical attention. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, in 2006, more than 31,000 people had to undergo reconstructive surgery because of dog bites.

Nevada have a statute of limitations – two years – regarding personal injury claims, such as dog bites. In the city of Las Vegas, if a dog bites for the first time and does not have a history of attacking others, no criminal legal action typically follows, although the owner may be subject to personal injury litigation. But after that first bite, the dog is then deemed dangerous. The owner will then need to follow specific restrictions about restraining their dog to ensure that others are protected. All dog bites must be reported to the Las Vegas Animal Control where the dog in question may be quarantined for rabies.

“While all dogs have the potential to bite, it typically is a last resort. Teaching and socializing a dog properly reduces the incidence of bites significantly,” commented personal injury attorney Bochanis. “Confident and well trained dogs tend to be less aggressive dogs.”