Stray Dog Bites

What are your legal rights when a stray dog bites? In California a doctor came to the rescue of an injured dog in the street and was bit by it while providing care to it. The vet rule was not a bar to a claim under the California Dog Bite Statute nor was implied assumption of risk a viable defense. Davis v. Gaschler, 11 Cal. App. 4th 1392.

Whether it is a stray dog that you find and try to harbor so that you may return it to its owner or report to animal control while you give it a drink and some food or you provide medical attention the vet rule is not a defense.

Also there is an affirmative defense known as the rescue doctrine. When a stray dog bites, you plead the rescue doctrine to vitiate any defense claim of assumption of risk and comparative negligence.  You will have to develop the rescue doctrine in your case and educate your opponent and the judge since it is never plead in dog bite cases, nonetheless it applies.

When a stray dog bites you the defense will be quick to attack you as causing your own injury. However, it is an admirable and kind act of compassion to help a stray and the rescuer should not be punished for demonstrating this kindness.  If you are administering a caring act toward a stray or injured dog act with extreme caution since an injured dog may bite when it ordinarily would not and you do not know the character of the particular stray dog.

I encourage anyone who has experienced where a stray dog bites to carefully craft how your present your insurance claim to include case citations known as legal points to back up your claim and include the rescue doctrine. Educating the insurance adjuster is a big part of succeeding in payment of a claim outside the court system.