A pit bull attacked and bit the face of a toddler in Montgomery County this Tuesday. This is the second dog attack just this week. The 18-month-old was with his mother when they went out back to see the three dogs chained along the fence of their mobile home. One of the dogs, a pit bull named Oreo, broke off of his chain and lunged at the toddler, going straight for his face. The toddler's mother stepped in and began trying to pry her son's head out of the dog's grip. Stern Law Group is representing the victims of this dog attack.
An ambulance soon arrived and transported the two to Texas Medical Center. The doctors told the toddler's mother that the boy would likely be paralyzed in the face and that his injuries would require multiple surgeries. Unlike the last dog attack like this, the toddler is expected to live. Aside from a small puncture wound on her head, the boy's mother is doing fine physically. Emotionally, those wounds will take longer to heal.
"I wish it would've been me. I wish the dog would've eaten my face instead of my baby," she said in an interview from the hospital.
What happens next is that the pit bull will be evaluated for rabies, and then a judge will decide what to do with the dog. Oreo actually belongs to a cousin of the boy's mother. She had been taking care of the dog while the owner was in jail.
In Texas, the laws that govern dog bites can be found in Chapter 822, Subchapter A of the statutes. The law says that a dog shall be seized if it causes death or serious injury to another person. The animal will wait at an animal control facility until the court makes a decision as to the dog's fate.
At the hearing, the court will evaluate the events of the accident, the parties involved, the extent of the injuries and information about the dog's enclosure. The dog will be put down if the court believes the dog caused serious bodily injury by biting/attacking and that attack was not provoked or caused by trespassing on private property.
When can a dog's owner be held liable for the injuries? According to § 822.005 of the Texas Statutes, it is considered criminally negligent for a dog's owner to fail to secure the dog, and then the dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person at a location "other than the owner's real property." A dog owner could also be charged with a second or third degree felony if:
- They knew the dog was dangerous
- The dog attacked another person without provocation
- The location of the attack was outside of a "secure enclosure" as defined by law
- The attack results in serious bodily injury or death
In cases like this, establishing ownership of the dog is going to be an important factor. The mother in this case had possession of the dog (it was on her property) but the dog actually belongs to a cousin who is currently in prison. The dog's restraints will also likely be a point of debate. The dog was restrained by a chain, but that restraint failed. Stern Law Group will be closely watching this case, as the court decisions in these types of cases also carry great weight in how future dog bite cases are decided.
Stern Law Group is currently handling this case, representing the mother and her young son. To learn more about Stern Law Group's personal injury practice or how you could secure representation from a Houston personal injury lawyer at our firm, please do not hesitate to call today and secure a free evaluation of your case.