A police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call in Newport News, Virginia (VA), on Jan. 31, 2010, was bitten on the hand and arm by the family’s pit bull. The officer had to shoot the dog to stop the attack, according to a report in the Virginian-Pilot, and was treated at a local hospital following the incident.
One of the charges filed against the man arrested at the scene is keeping a dangerous or vicious dog. All dogs can bite, injure or kill, but poorly trained and socialized pit bulls pose a particular threat because of their natural strength, stamina and instinct to fiercely protect their owners.
Reports compiled by the advocacy group Dogbites.org show that in 2008, police and private citizens found it necessary to shoot 373 pit bulls to prevent or stop an attack. That organization also determined that 15 of the 23 U.S. residents who died from dog bites in 2008 were attacked by pit bulls.
Owners ho know or should know that their dogs are dangerous are responsible for the actions of their dogs. Virginia recognizes this by requiring people who keep dangerous dogs to get special licenses and pay fees over and above those for regular dog licenses. The Commonwealth also maintains a searchable online registry of dangerous dogs in each Virginia county and city.
It appears that the injuries suffered by the Newport News officer were not serious, and that is good news. Too often, though, uncontrolled dogs can seriously injure or kill children and adults.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.