Dangerous Dog Law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has rules that are derived from both statute and case law that apply when one person’s dog bites another person. There are two classes of dog bite victims based on severity of the bite and whether the dog has behaved dangerously or bitten in the past.

A “dangerous dog” is:

A. A dog that has done one or more of the following:

  1. Inflicted serious injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property;
  2. Killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property;
  3. Attacked a human being without provocation;
  4. Been used in the commission of a crime.

B. A dog that has either or both of the following:

  1. A history of attacking people and/or domestic animals without provocation;
  2. A propensity to attack people and/or domestic animals without provocation. A propensity to attack can be proven by a single incident of the conduct described in (A), above.

Dangerous dogs must be registered, insured and contained. An owner must post a surety bond for $50,000 or buy an insurance policy for coverage in the amount of at least $50,000 insuring the owner for any personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog. The dog must be firmly secured by means of a collar and chain so that it cannot stray beyond the premises on which it is secured or under the reasonable control of a responsible person. A dangerous dog owner must also post a clearly visible warning sign that there is a dangerous dog on the property.

The owner of a dangerous dog may be held civilly liable in Pennsylvania if they fail to abide by their responsibilities and it results in injury to another person. A landlord may also be held liable for injuries the dog causes while on the landlord’s property, if they know that a tenant owns a dangerous dog and if the landlord has the right to remove the animal from the property.

Injuries and conditions from a dog bite include scratches, puncture wounds, lacerations, scarring and post-traumatic stress.

Metzger Wickersham's personal injury attorneys have extensive experience helping dog bite victims. If you've been hurt by a dangerous dog, we can work to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and non-economic damages for pain and suffering and disfigurement. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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