Neither Ohio dog bite laws nor Columbus’s local ordinances classify dangerous dogs by breed or any immediately visible feature. People coming face-to-face with an unfamiliar dog in Columbus are essentially on their own: Does the dog look dangerous? Is it likely to bite? What should I do to stay safe? We’ll offer a few tips on how to avoid an attack. If you’ve already been bitten, you should act as soon as possible to preserve your right to full compensation for your injuries.
At Slater & Zurz LLP, we’ve been successfully handling dog bite claims for over 40 years. Our record proves that we know how to win. We understand the pain, lingering anxiety and fear suffered by dog attack victims. We also know what’s involved in restoring victims to some semblance of their normal lives after a vicious dog attack. Significant injuries require significant compensation.
If you or a loved one was bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog, call or email our team of dog bite lawyers for a free consultation. We’ll listen to your story, answer your questions, and suggest a strategy for vindicating your rights and obtaining compensation for your losses. We’re here to help!
Under both Ohio dog bite law and comparable Columbus ordinances, dogs are classified based on their previous conduct.
Ohio dog bite law and Columbus’ animal control ordinances are similar in many respects. However, while state laws permit people to own and keep dogs classified as “vicious” based on prior conduct, a Columbus ordinance bans “vicious” dogs from the city. Knowing that those dogs deemed to be among the most deadly cannot exist within the city limits might afford some peace of mind for victims of dog attacks.
Before 2012, Ohio classified dogs by breed: some breeds, such as pit bulls, were presumed to be potentially dangerous, while other breeds were deemed to be safe.
In 2012 Ohio stopped singling out certain breeds of dogs as likely to bite or attack, and instead began classifying dogs as “nuisance,” “dangerous,” and “vicious” dogs. The new laws established liability insurance requirements for owners of dangerous and vicious dogs, and empowered dog wardens to designate any dog as vicious or dangerous.
- A vicious dog is one that has killed or seriously injured any person, with two exceptions: (1) a police dog that killed or injured someone while assisting police officers; and (2) a dog that killed or seriously injured someone committing a crime on the dog’s owner’s property.
- A dangerous dog is one (other than an on-duty police dog) that has caused non-serious injury to a person; has killed another dog; or has been the subject of at least three prior violations of the requirement that the owner confine or control it.
- A nuisance dog is one (other than an on-duty police dog) that, when off its owner’s property, has chased or approached someone in a menacing way or has tried to bite or otherwise endanger anyone.
When on the owner’s property, a dangerous or vicious dog must be securely confined in a locked pen with a top or in a locked, fenced yard. When off the owner’s property, a dangerous or vicious dog is legally required to be secured in a locked pen with a top, leashed, or muzzled. A dangerous or vicious dog’s owner must maintain liability insurance to cover injuries caused by the dog.
Many Ohio cities and villages have passed ordinances declaring certain dogs dangerous or vicious based on breed alone. By far, pit bulls have been placed in those categories more than any other breed, and have been banned in 15 cities and villages. Several other breeds have been classified as dangerous or vicious, but not banned: canary dogs, American bulldogs, presa canarios, and guarding breeds such as German shepherds and Doberman pinschers.
Like Ohio state law, Columbus ordinances define animals—not simply dogs—as vicious, dangerous, and nuisance animals. Like state law, Columbus ordinances classify animals based on their previous conduct, and not by breed.
- A vicious animal is one that represents a danger to any person or domestic animal because it has killed or seriously injured a person.
- A dangerous animal is one that represents a danger to any person or domestic animal, because either:
- It is “attack trained” (trained to attack on command, or specially trained to protect persons or property), or
- It has, without provocation, chased or attempted to bite any person when off its owner’s property.
- A nuisance animal is one that has been cited or impounded for running at large, for not being licensed, or for not having been vaccinated for rabies.
In Columbus, dangerous animals must be muzzled in any public place. No one is permitted to keep a vicious animal in the city.
Complaints that a particular animal is vicious can be made to the health commissioner. The animal’s owner is entitled to a hearing before the animal review board. If the animal is determined to be vicious, it must be euthanized or removed from the city.
Ohio dog bite statutes impose “strict liability” on the dog’s owner.
Ohio dog bite law imposes “strict liability” on the owner or other person in charge of a dog if it bites anyone. Under Ohio Revised Code §955.28(B), a dog bite victim is entitled to compensation for the bite from the owner without having to prove fault or negligence on the owner’s part, unless the victim was trespassing, teasing or abusing the dog on its owner’s property at the time of the bite. If the owner was using his or her best efforts to control the dog—restraining it with a leash, keeping it in a fenced area, commanding it to “sit” or “stay”—dog bite liability will still attach to the owner if the dog broke loose from the leash, jumped the fence, or ignored the owner’s commands, and bit or attacked anyone.
The victim of a dog bite or attack can recover present and future medical expenses, ambulance charges, mental health counseling, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other bite-related damages. To maximize your recovery, it’s essential that you connect with a dog bite attorney with experience in both dog bite cases and personal injury law, and the resources to fully develop all aspects of your claim for compensation:
- Disruption of your ability to do your job or advance to higher paying positions over time;
- Interference with your spousal and parent-child relationships;
- Immediate and long-term medical and rehabilitative care;
- Plastic surgery to correct any visible disfigurement;
- Personal home care;
- Psychological and/or psychiatric care to address the mental and emotional trauma arising from a vicious dog attack; and
- Long-term and potentially disabling pain.
At Slater & Zurz, our first priority is our clients’ well-being—physical, emotional, and financial. Although we can’t “undo” a dog bite, we have a long track record of success in obtaining compensation for dog bite victims.
The determination of your future medical, rehabilitative, and personal care needs; the vocational implications of dog bite injuries; and the calculation of other long-term financial consequences may vastly exceed your out-of-pocket medical bills at the time of a vicious dog attack, and may require expert analysis. We know what to look for and how to prove the full amount that the dog bite or attack will cost you over the course of your lifetime.
If you or your child has been attacked by someone else’s dog, call or email our team of dog bite lawyers for a free consultation. We’ll assess your claim, answer your questions, and recommend the most effective strategy for obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Report the incident and get medical treatment after being bitten!
Report the incident within 24 hours. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, Ohio law requires that you report the incident within 24 hours. If you don’t report it, a doctor who examines, cleans, and/or treats your wounds must file a report. A veterinarian who examines the dog must also file a report.
If you were bitten in Columbus or greater Franklin County, you should report the incident to any of the following:
- Within 24 hours, Animal Care & Control (dog warden): (614) 525-3400
- Franklin County Public Health: (614) 525-3160.
- You may also fax a written report within 24 hours after the incident to Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health: (614) 525-8890.
- After 24 hours (non-serious bite), Columbus Health Department: (614) 645-6134 or (614) 645-7288.
Get medical care immediately. Even if your wounds appear minor, seek medical care from your own doctor, an urgent care facility, or an emergency room as soon as possible after being bitten. A bite can become infected, leading to potentially serious complications. Although not common, you could contract rabies from an unvaccinated dog.
Both reporting the incident and obtaining medical treatment can be invaluable to your claim against the dog’s owner for compensation.
Gather as much information as possible:
- Dog owner’s name, address, and phone number.
- Rabies tag number, if any.
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Location where the attack occurred.
- Dog’s apparent breed, coloring, approximate size/weight, and any distinctive markings if the identity of the owner is unavailable and/or if the dog remained at large after the attack.
Preventing a dog bite in the first place is the best solution.
Use caution to avoid being bitten:
- Don’t approach a dog you don’t know.
- Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or guarding its puppies.
- Avoid eye contact with a dog that is behaving aggressively.
Stay calm if confronted by a dog:
- Don’t yell or scream.
- Don’t run away. The dog can run faster than you can.
- Avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Remain completely still. The dog may sniff you, but will probably lose interest and move on.
- Wait until the dog loses interest, then back away slowly.
Protect yourself if attacked.
- Seek cover and place anything available—a bike, a coat, or a backpack—between the dog and yourself.
- Try to remain standing.
- If the dog knocks you down, curl into a ball on your knees and use your arms to protect your face and neck.
If you are bitten by someone else’s dog, trust a full-service law firm to help you get the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s dog, you deserve to be compensated. Although it’s rare, even a dog that knows you and is usually friendly can react in an unanticipated manner with tragic results. If you’re bitten or attacked, seek medical treatment and report the incident. Then reach out to a full-service Columbus dog bite law firm with the resources to build a winning case and the proven ability to succeed.
Like so many others who have placed their trust in us, you can count on Slater & Zurz to thoroughly evaluate your claim, answer any questions you may have, and devise a strategy tailored to meet your needs, based on your circumstances and the expertise we’ve developed over the years handling dog bite cases. Call or email our team of experienced dog bite attorneys for a free consultation. If we take your case, we don’t get paid unless you get paid. We’re here to serve your legal needs with compassion, determination, and the drive to win for you.