Confusing Dog Attack Laws in Arkansas Potentially Make Getting Compensation Difficult

There is no unified statewide law dealing specifically with vicious dog attacks in Arkansas. This can leave victims struggling to get the compensation they deserve after they’ve been bitten and leave dog owners clueless about what their obligations are in regards to protecting family, friends, and the public at large.

One Child Bitten Every Day

Unfortunately, this is an issue that arises all-too-often in our state. According to the National Pit Bull Victims Association (NPBVA) there were six fatal dog attacks in Arkansas between 2010 and 2016—and those six deaths involved pit bulls. However, Dr. Michael Golinko, a plastic surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who specializes in pediatric dog bites, says that he personally is seeing at least one child injured per day by dog attacks. Most of these victims suffer from minor lacerations but some—most notably those attacked by pit bulls—are bitten multiple times in multiple locations on their body.    There are several breeds of vicious dogs, but without a doubt pit bulls remain high on that list.

Multiple Municipalities Mean Multiple Dog Bite Laws in Arkansas

While there is a section of the state’s code that does deal with dog attacks, there are also multiple statutes and ordinances on the books in various counties, towns, and cities throughout the state. Each of these has their own specifications for what qualifies as a “vicious dog attack” and what victims can expect to happen after they’ve been bitten.

This confusing legal quagmire can leave even police officers and other city officials confused and struggling to do the right thing after a dog attack in Arkansas. While treating the victim is the number one priority, what happens to the animal? Is it killed on site? Is it quarantined? Is it taken from the owner? Is it ordered under “house arrest?”

That all depends on what part of Arkansas you’re in.

Town Questions Existing Dog Ordinance After Attack in Arkansas

This inequality doesn’t sit well with some town officials. Indeed, leaders in Harrison, Arkansas questioned whether or not they needed a stronger dog attack ordinance on the books after a woman was viciously bitten by three animals while walking in a neighborhood cemetery.

The woman was severely bitten and chased out of the cemetery. She required four stitches to repair a bite to her forearm in addition to treatments for multiple other small lacerations. She would have likely suffered additional injuries if not for a passerby who happened to pull up in a vehicle and honk a horn to scare the dogs away.

Harrison’s current dog ordinances do not deal directly with vicious dog attacks in this Arkansas town. There are no specific clauses dealing with dogs who:

  • Threaten or attack other dogs
  • Threaten or attack humans
  • Repeatedly attack other dogs and/or humans

Euthanasia isn’t Always Mandated

A recent dog attack in Lonoke County, Arkansas highlights the danger “aggressive breeds” pose to children but also the variety of legal standards we depend upon after a dog attack.

In this specific case, a dog voluntarily put down after it attacked a 17-month-old baby—biting the little girl on the buttocks and head repeatedly. The dog, a pit bull, kept attacking and it took three people to actually pull the animal away. The little girl suffered severe head wounds, the dog’s teeth puncturing her skull but not touching her brain.

While the dog was immediately euthanized, that’s not always the case. Indeed, in the case mentioned above, all three dogs were simply quarantined in the owner’s house to determine if they were rabid or not. While civil fines were issued, no order to euthanize the dogs was given.

Strong Dog Bite Ordinances Not the Norm in Arkansas

The developments in Harrison, Arkansas are by no means trendsetting. Indeed, officials in Boone County decided that the Arkansas’ state dog law is good enough, preferring not to alter existing statutes on the books.

But what does Arkansas’s dog bite law really say?

Arkansas Unlawful Dog Attack Law

Arkansas state code has a section which pertains to dog attacks. Specifically, the 2012 Arkansas Code,  Title 5 (Criminal Offenses), Subtitle 6 (Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Or Welfare), Chapter 62 (Animals), Subchapter 1 (General Provisions), § 5-62-125 (Unlawful dog attack).

This section reads:

A person commits the offense of unlawful dog attack if:

(1) The person owns a dog that the person knows or has reason to know has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or endanger the safety of other persons without provocation;

(2) The person negligently allows the dog to attack another person; and

(3) The attack causes the death of or serious physical injury to the person attacked.

(b) The offense of unlawful dog attack is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c) In addition to any penalty imposed under this section, the court or jury may require the defendant to pay restitution under 5-4-205 for any medical bills of the person attacked for injuries caused by the attack.

Getting Compensation after a Dog Bite in Arkansas

As the victim of a vicious dog attack in Arkansas, getting the medical attention you need to recover and heal is first and foremost.   But paying for that recovery isn’t easy.  Under Arkansas State Law, dog owners may be legally liable for:

  • Your medical expenses
  • Your lost wages
  • Your pain and suffering
  • Your long term recovery

Because multiple ordinances come into play (in addition to state law) you may need the help of an experienced dog bite lawyer in Arkansas to get the compensation you deserve and are entitled to, and also to get the compensation you deserve and are entitled to in a timely fashion.

Contact the expert legal team at the Pfeifer Law Firm for your free consultation. Get in touch with us online or call 501-374-4440 today.   After-hours and weekend appointments are available upon request.

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