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Shelter Did Not Disclose Dog’s History

Public and private entities that sell or transfer dogs to individuals have certain legal obligations when they place a dog with an owner. When these entities breach their obligations, this could lead to liability if an injury occurs. At Colburn Law, we regularly help dog bite injury victims recover compensation for their losses. Here, we want to discuss whether or not a shelter could be held liable if you or someone else sustains a bite injury by a dog that you adopted.

Often, Shelters Don’t Know a Dog’s History

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are around 6.3 million companion animals in shelters across the country each year. Approximately 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted annually (around 2 million dogs and 2.1 million cats).

There are plenty of shelters throughout the state of Washington, including in the Seattle area. Dog adoption has become an incredibly popular option for getting a household pet, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, shelters often deal with limited information about a dog’s history. Unless a dog is specifically surrendered by an owner who has the full paperwork and backstory of the dog, the shelter will have to take their best guess at the dog’s health history and temperament. In general, shelters do spend time with every dog to ensure that they are not aggressive and adaptable, but again, the shelter often does not know the dog’s entire history.

If the Shelter Knows a Dog Is Aggressive

If a shelter has specific knowledge that a dog is considered “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous,” defined in RCW 16.08.070, then it is very unlikely that an adoption will occur unless the dog is “cured” of its dangerous tendencies. More likely, in these scenarios, a dangerous dog that ends up in a shelter will be put down.

If a shelter or shelter staff knows that there is a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog and chooses to allow the dog to go for adoption without notifying the new owners, this could lead to significant issues of liability for the shelter. If the dog then goes on to bite the new owners or other individuals, the shelter could face a civil lawsuit for failing to disclose the dog’s history.

Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a dog bite injury in Washington, you need to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. Dog bite injury cases can be challenging, particularly when standing up to aggressive insurance carriers who do not want to pay compensation.

At Colburn Law, our Washington dog bite injury attorneys have the resources necessary to handle every aspect of your claim. We have successfully recovered significant settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of dog bite injury victims, and our goal is to make sure you have compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering losses. We will specifically look into the history of the dog as well as the shelter where you adopted the dog to ensure that there were no “red flags” that the shelter knew about before allowing you to adopt the pet.