Pennsylvania law holds dog owners liable for harm and injuries caused by their animals when proven that the owner failed in his or her duty to confine a pet. Under some circumstances, a pet owner may face criminal charges over a vicious animal’s attack, especially if the dog has a history of biting. 

When an 83-year-old Luzerne County woman returned home from running errands, two dogs suddenly ran toward her as she approached her front entrance. One went on the attack. According to a WNEP news report, she suffered severe injuries requiring two separate visits to the hospital for uncontrollable bleeding. Her left leg had three deep canine bites, and her calf and thigh required stitches. She also received the rabies protocol to prevent a possible rabies infection while recovering. 

What happens to the dog? 

After a neighbor chased the dog away, authorities could not immediately locate its owner. Law enforcement officials have the authority to remove a dog from its owner’s care after receiving reports of a bite that occurred on a public street. Officials may place an animal in quarantine or under observation when it severely injures a human, another animal or livestock. 

Must owners confine dogs? 

The Keystone State requires owners to confine their dogs on their property with a collar and chain so that they will not escape. Owners must also keep their dogs on a leash while they are in public places. 

There are exceptions to the rule when owners take their pets to dedicated parks designed for dogs. If a dog escaped from its owner’s property or broke away while on its leash, however, any harmful actions may result in its owner’s liability for injuries and damages. 

Can a legal action result from a dog bite? 

Because a dog owner has a duty of care to keep his or her animal confined, any deviation from that duty may result in a civil action. A harmed individual may seek relief for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.