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Days after dog attacks, question of ownership remains

If someone in San Diego becomes the victim of a vicious attack by a dog, the owner of that dog should not be surprised if action is taken to hold them accountable. The damage that an animal attack can do is not limited to the physical injuries that can be inflicted. There can be significant emotional trauma, as well.

The cost of the therapies that may be required and the time it takes to recover can be staggering. Seeking compensation is a victim's right. Obtaining it may be trickier, especially if you aren't working with an experienced attorney.

The difficulties that can be associated with trying to hold a dog's owner responsible for an animal attack is apparent in a case that took place earlier this month in the Bay Terraces neighborhood. Maybe you saw the news reports about it.

According to city officials, the Tuesday morning routines of residents along Petal Drive turned chaotic on April 1 when three pit bull dogs went on a rampage.

Authorities say the first victim was a 78-year-old Navy retiree. He reportedly had just stepped out of his home to get the newspaper when the dogs attacked. He suffered injuries significant enough that he had to be taken to the hospital.

Witnesses say the dogs then went after a woman and managed to bite her ankle as she clambered, screaming, over a fence into a neighbor's yard.

The next victim was 19-year-old male who had stepped out of his house to see what all the commotion was about. He suffered bites to a thigh and ribcage before scrambling back into his home.

By this time, police had arrived on the scene. They shot and killed two of the dogs. The third animal, severely wounded, was reportedly put down at a veterinary clinic.

Here's where things get more complicated. Animal Services officials say the dogs had no ID tags or imbedded microchips to indicate registry and ownership. Residents say they never saw the dogs before, and no owner has come forward.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pit bulls shot after attacking 3 in San Diego," Pauline Repard, April 2, 2014

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