New California Law Aims to Make Dog Bite Histories More Transparent

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A new California law requires animal shelters to document and disclose a dog’s history of biting.

If you are making the decision to adopt a dog as a pet, you’ll naturally be curious about the animal’s history. For example, learning that the dog you are about to bring home to your family has a history of biting young children could help you avoid disaster. According to a new California law, animal shelters and rescue groups are now required to document and share any history of biting for each of the dogs they have under their care. The intention is to make new owners more aware of the animal’s history and to reduce the likelihood that the dog will bite in the future.

A Matter of Safety

The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Phillip Chen (R-Brea), was created in response to numerous concerns from owners who had brought an animal home from a pet shelter or rescue group, only to discover that the dog was prone to bite young children or other people. This new law aims to make it safer and easier for potential owners to make more informed decisions about which pet to introduce into their lives. An animal who has a history of biting would likely not be a good fit for a family with young children. However, someone who lives alone and is committed to helping the animal become less aggressive could choose to invest time and energy into making the dog feel calmer and less prone to outbursts.

Holding Shelters Accountable

Since the law requires shelters and rescue services to be more transparent about each animal’s history, there are penalties for failing to maintain and share such records. If it is determined that the shelter knew of a dog’s biting history that they somehow neglected to disclose, the organization could be charged a fine of up to $500. For the most part, animal shelters and other rescue groups have expressed support for this new law, a few concerns have been raised. This law does require more resources and efforts to maintain detailed documentation, which can put an additional strain on already understaffed organizations. Also, the shelter is not always aware of why the animal has a biting history—was it abused? Is it scared? Many details regarding the context of the bite are often unknown, making it challenging to maintain a reliable and accurate record.

Reducing Dog Bite Incidents and Avoiding Personal Injury Lawsuits

Ultimately, Governor Gavin Newsom intends this new law to make it easier for hopeful pet owners to make more informed decisions about which animal to adopt. As each dog is matched more appropriately to an individual or family who can make it feel supported, loved, and less anxious, the number of dog biting incidents should gradually reduce. While many dog bites are fairly minor, there are some that cause significant damage, resulting in costly medical bills and pain and suffering. Hopefully, this law will lead to fewer incidents, fewer lawsuits, and more animal adoptions that make both the owners and the pets feel safe.

Want to learn more about personal injury law in California? Contact the knowledgeable legal team at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today at (951) 489-3320.

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