Although many people hesitate to report dog bites, fearing that the dog will be put down, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, many dogs who are reported for attacking or biting are ultimately released back into their owner’s care. You should always report dog bites to the local health commissioner in the area in which the dog bite occurred. Not only is this important for your safety and the safety of others, but it is also required by Ohio state law.
When a dog bite is reported in Ohio, several things immediately happen.
First, the local health department immediately begins conducting an assessment to determine the risk of rabies exposure. During this time, the dog will be held for at least 10 days. If the health department determines that the dog is at risk for rabies, the department will likely have the dog quarantined for a set period of time. Depending on the circumstances, the dog may be quarantined at a local shelter, kennel, or pound, or it may be quarantined at the owner’s home. In some cases, the health department may order the dog to be put down humanely so that various tests can be conducted.
In addition to the rabies exposure risk assessment, the health department and/or animal control will also evaluate whether the dog is up to date on its vaccinations. If there are any concerns regarding the dog’s vaccination history and possible risk to the victim, the health department and/or animal control will relay this to the victim.
Reporting the bite also initiates an investigation into the incident. The local health commissioner and/or law enforcement can begin looking into what happened and whether the dog owner violated any laws or ordinances.
The investigation will determine whether the dog is one of the following:
- A Nuisance Dog: One that attempts to bite or attack or one that chases a person
- A Dangerous Dog: One that bites or causes injury to a person
- A Vicious Dog: One that causes severe injury or kills a person
This investigation and the final report can serve as important evidence in your civil personal injury claim or lawsuit.
When to Report a Dog Bite
According to Ohio Administrative Code 3701-3-28, anyone who has knowledge of a dog bite must report the incident to the local health commissioner in the district where the bite occurred within 24 hours. The law also applies to any bite or attack from a non-human mammal.
The law requires at least one of the following individuals to report the attack/bite:
- The victim
- A licensed veterinarian
- Any health care provider
Every year, each local health district must provide information and data on reported animal attacks and bites to the state’s department of health.
How to Report a Dog Bite in Ohio
You can report dog and other non-human mammal bites—as well as “significant exposure,” such as a scratch or open wound—online or by phone. Reports should be made to the local health commissioner in the district in which the bite occurred. So, for example, if you were bitten by a dog while visiting Sandusky, you would report the bite to the Sandusky County Health Department or the Erie County Department of Health, even if this is not where you live or where the dog primarily resides.
You can report a dog bite occurring in Sandusky or the nearby areas by contacting one of the following agencies:
- Sandusky County Health Department
- Phone: (419) 334-6377
- Website: https://odh.ohio.gov/home
- Erie County Department of Health
- Phone: (814) 451-6711
You can find information on other local health distracts and reporting dog bites and other animal attacks occurring at other locations throughout Ohio by clicking here.
What Should You Include in a Dog Bite Report?
When reporting a dog bite to local authorities, whether the police or the local health department, there are several things you should include in the report.
Make sure to provide as much information and detail as possible about the following:
- What the dog looked like, including its approximate size/weight, breed, and color
- Where the attack occurred, as well as the time of day
- The dog owner’s information, including their name and contact information
- How the incident occurred and what happened immediately before and after the bite
- Your information, including your name, contact information, and other relevant details
In Erie County, the victim is responsible for helping the local health department in obtaining relevant information about the dog or other animal, as well as its owner. If the animal appears to be a stray, the victim should assist the health department in locating it so that the 10-day shelter and quarantine can begin. If the animal cannot be located, the victim should immediately begin rabies treatment (including vaccination).
The Importance of Reporting Dog Bites
As previously mentioned, many people are reluctant to report dog bites and attacks out of fear that the animal will be killed. If you were bitten by a known dog, such as a friend or neighbor’s pet, you may be even more hesitant to report the incident. However, you not only have a legal responsibility to report the bite, but you also have an obligation to inform the authorities about the incident so that they can take necessary measures to protect the public.
Often, when the dog’s owner can be located, the dog will not be put down. It may even be permitted to be quarantined at the owner’s home. By reporting the bite, you can ensure that the dog is safely sheltered where it cannot cause harm to others. And, if necessary, authorities may order the dog owner to take certain safety precautions to prevent future injury. The dog owner is required to cooperate with the local health department’s investigation and recommendations, including quarantining procedures.
Reporting the dog bite also provides invaluable evidence for a future personal injury claim. By law, you have the right to seek fair financial compensation for your medical expenses, hospital bills, lost income, trauma, pain and suffering, and other damages. In some cases, this may mean filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance provider; in others, it may mean bringing a lawsuit against the dog owner. In any case, having an initial incident report on file proves that you followed applicable reporting laws and provides strong supporting evidence for your claim.
Get Help With Your Claim Today!
At Murray & Murray, we can help you understand your rights after a serious dog bite or attack. Our Sandusky dog bite attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of severe injury, as well as the surviving family members of those wrongfully killed. We understand the challenges you are facing, and our team is ready to fight for you.
If you would like to speak to a member of our legal team about your situation, contact us today and request a free, no-obligation consultation.