Dog bite expert & animal behavior specialist

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

Dr. Richard Polsky - The Dog Expert

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Pit bull mauling in California: Dog bite expert opinion

Below, I share  the correspondence received from an extremely distraught owner as a result of the Pit bull mauling in Californiavicious pit bull mauling in California.  In this incident, the owner and his wife lost their beloved dog.

JP writes:

My wife and I with our dog Sherman were out for a walk in the evening around 5:00 pm.  Sherman was brutally attacked by an off-leash pit bull. Sherman died as a result of the injuries.  This pit bull and its’ owner took away from my wife and I our most loved  possession.

The area were this occurred does not have an enforceable leash law that the Sheriffs  department and or Animal control can enforce to cite or prosecute the owners of dogs not leashed. Please help me to bring this injustice to a halt, to stop any further  occurrences!!  Any help would be greatly appreciated,  Thank you.

Response from Dr. Polsky:

I am sorry to learn about your loss and I share with you the distraught you must be experiencing as a result of losing a family member.

Here’s how I feel about Leash laws:   They serve one purpose and one purpose only: to ensure the safety of people from dogs running at large.   At-large dogs compromise public safety in obvious ways (i.e. car accidents, etc.).  And now, it is your misfortune to have direct experience in demonstrating that some off-leash, out of control pit bulls, pose an extreme danger because of their aggressive tendencies,  both to people and other dogs.

What are your options?  Legally, I  believe you can recover damages for the actual value of your dog.  I believe the current law in California, and probably elsewhere, continues to regard dogs as personal  property, although this may be changing. See: California Court of Appeals Says Pets are More Than Inanimate Property.

It goes without saying that, whatever you recover will never come close to the damages  you have suffered emotionally.  As noted in the link above,  some California courts have taken the position that family dogs should be treated as bona fide family members.  I believe  you might benefit if you consulted with an attorney specializing in family law.  Talk about about damages for the emotional injuries you and your wife have sustained, particularly if you witnessed this brutal homicide by this unleashed pit bull.