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Can I Sue If I’m Bitten by a Dog While Breaking Up a Dog Fight?

Dogs are territorial animals. This means whether on your daily walk, at the dog park, or even on your lawn, there’s always a chance your dog will end up in a tussle with another dog. Most dog fights end without serious injuries, but some can be potentially deadly for dogs, making it important to break them up.

Dogs can usually be quickly separated when they get aggressive with each other, especially when they’re leashed. But unleashed dogs or large dogs that pull away from their leashes often require more direct intervention when they fight. That can put their owners and bystanders at risk of being bitten if they attempt to break up those fights.

If you or someone you love was injured while breaking up a dog fight, here’s what you need to know about your rights to compensation.

Understanding Oklahoma’s Dog Bite Law

In Oklahoma, dog bite cases generally fall under the realm of personal injury law. The state follows the “strict liability” rule when it comes to dog bites.

This means that a dog’s owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone, regardless of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness or any previous behavior. However, there are exceptions to this rule, especially when the circumstances surrounding the bite involve the injured party’s actions.

The Role of Negligence

When you’re bitten while breaking up a fight between two or more dogs, the concept of negligence comes into play. Negligence refers to the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary carefulness would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but it can also consist of inactions when there is some duty to act.

To succeed in a dog bite claim, you must prove the dog owner’s negligence contributed to your injuries. This could mean showing that the owner failed to take reasonable steps to control their pet and prevent it from attacking. In many cases, this can mean failing to leash their dog or allowing it to freely roam in an area where there are people and other pets.

However, your actions before and during the dog attack will also be scrutinized. If you purposefully intervened in the dog fight (as opposed to being accidentally caught in the middle of the fight), the opposing side or jury might consider whether your actions were reasonable or if you voluntarily took on the risk of being bitten.

Comparative Negligence in Oklahoma

Oklahoma operates under a “comparative negligence” system. This means that if both parties are found to be partially at fault, the amount of compensation you’re entitled to may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you are found to be 30% responsible for your injuries because you chose to intervene in the dog fight, your compensation will be reduced by 30%.

What Are the Best Ways to Safely Break Up a Dog Fight?

Breaking up a dog fight is risky and should be done cautiously. It’s important to prioritize your safety first and the safety of the dogs involved second when breaking up a dog fight.

Here are some steps you can take to safely break up a dog fight:

Don’t Grab Collars or Reach for Faces

Trying to separate dogs by grabbing their collars or heads can lead to redirected aggression, where a dog might bite you unintentionally.

Use a Loud Distraction

Sometimes, a loud noise such as clapping, shouting, or a loud whistle can momentarily distract the dogs, allowing them a moment to disengage.

Place a Physical Barrier Between the Dogs

If available, use a large object to separate the dogs. This can be anything from a large piece of cardboard, a chair, or even a trash can lid. The goal is to put a barrier between the dogs without putting yourself in harm’s way.

Use Water

If you’re outside, a hose, a bucket of water, or even a water bottle can be effective at stopping a dog fight. Splashing water on the dogs might surprise them enough to stop fighting.

Use the Wheelbarrow Method

As a last resort, and only if you have someone to help you, each person can grab the back legs of one of the dogs, lifting them off the ground in a wheelbarrow fashion. Then, both people should walk backward, pulling the dogs apart.

Secure the Dogs After Separation

Once the dogs are separated, make sure to secure them far away from each other to prevent the fight from restarting. Check them for injuries and consult a veterinarian if needed.

If you’re unsure about your ability to safely break up a dog fight, it might be best to seek help from others or call animal control rather than risking injury to yourself or the dogs.

Our Oklahoma City Dog Bite Lawyers Are Here to Help

If you’re ever bitten by a dog, you should immediately seek medical attention. Deep dog bites can result in serious blood loss, infection, and nerve damage. Then, it’s important to contact a law firm that understands dog bite cases in Oklahoma. Dog bite victims often incur huge medical bills and may be unable to work for weeks, months, or even years, which is why they deserve to be duly compensated for their injuries.

At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we have the experience and legal knowledge dog bite victims need after bites caused during dog fights and unprovoked attacks. Contact our Oklahoma City dog bite law attorneys today for a free consultation.