While the following story does not concern the law here in Chicago or Illinois, it does illustrate a key point about dog bites in general. Maryland lawmakers are on the cusp of passing a law that would hold dog owners liable should their dog bite an “innocent victim.” They also revised their definition of pits bulls as “inherently dangerous”
Both of these moves are good ones by Maryland lawmakers. While pit bulls get a lot of criticism — and are the most visible in dog bite stories, probably because of the way they are portrayed — any dog can be dangerous if they are not properly trained or taken care of. Yes, pit bulls have a stronger bite that most, but the owner and upbringing of the dog play such a huge factor in its behavior.
The more important point here is that owners of a pet must be held accountable when their pet runs wild and attacks someone. Victims of animal bites need to remember during those harrowing moments after the attack to try to obtain contact and identity information of the owner of the pet. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but it could really help you in a number of ways.
For example, after such a bite, you will likely go through a rabies treatment procedure. However, if you have the owner’s information and can prove that the dog has been immunized against it, you may be able to avoid this procedure.
You may go through with the treatment anyway, just in case. And again, having the owner information can help here. They can be held liable for the bite and thus could be held responsible for your medical bills related to the rabies treatment.
Source: DPR, “Maryland Assembly Close to Approving Dog Bite Liability Bill,” Don Rush, AP, March 13, 2014