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What to do if a dangerous dog lives near you

Most of the time, dogs are friendly pets. They are called man's best friend, after all. 

However, some dogs are more aggressive than others, even when they do not feel threatened. By law, dog owners of consistently aggressive dogs must register their dog to provide public information that their dog is dangerous. Many families across Washington might not even be aware that they live near a dangerous dog, but there are ways they can stay safe.

How do you know if a dog is dangerous?

First, individuals need to understand the characteristics of a dangerous dog. Washington law describes dangerous dogs as dogs who:

  • Frequently portray aggressive behavior
  • Chase people or animals consistently
  • Bite or attack people or animals without being provoked
  • Have killed one animal or more without provocation

Unfortunately, many owners of dangerous dogs do not take the proper measures to keep their dogs leashed or fenced in either. Dangerous dogs roaming the community only increase the risk of a dog bite or attack.

Tips to stay safe

Washington dog owners have a strict liability to prevent their dogs from causing injury. They have a responsibility to keep others safe, but they do not always do so. This can be incredibly frustrating and even frightening. 

However, there are ways that Washington families can stay safe, including:

  • Always keep an eye on children playing outside--they are the most vulnerable to dog attacks
  • Do not make eye contact with the dogs--they perceive it as a challenge
  • Speak with the dog owner about their concerns

It can be intimidating to talk to the owner of a dangerous dog. Remember to maintain a civil tone. Otherwise, the dog owner might become defensive and unresponsive to the concerns about their dog. 

If necessary, report the dog to Animal Control

Calling Animal Control is always an option, especially if the dog owner refuses to control their dangerous dog themselves. The dog owner could face significant fines or even criminal charges if they do not control or register their dangerous dog.

No one should have to fear for their safety in their own community or neighborhood. And dog attacks can result in catastrophic injuries, especially for children. Even though the dog owner is responsible for those injuries, and therefore compensation, preventing these injuries in the first place is critical.

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