Although most dog owners act responsibly with regards to the care and keeping of their pets, there are situations when animals bite in Illinois and elsewhere. As a result of a dog attack, people may suffer serious physical injuries, as well as endure mental and emotional distress due to the trauma of the incident. Under certain circumstances, however, the dog’s owner may be liable for the associated losses of those injured.

Dog bites can result in bleeding, pain and bruising, as well as lacerations and wounds ranging from shallow to deep. Due to the bacteria and germs in dogs’ mouths, such bites may become infected, even with appropriate medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dog bites may cause diseases including rabies, Capnocytophaga bacteria, Pasteurella, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and tetanus. Almost one out of every five people who is bitten by a dog needs medical attention for the resulting injuries.

According to Illinois state law, pet owners may be held financially responsible for injuries suffered as a result of dog attacks. This is the case, provided the victims were conducting themselves in a peaceful manner and were on property they were lawfully permitted to be on. For example, this may include a dog bite that occurred in the victim’s own yard or at a local park.

Under the state’s Animal Control Act, the term owner encompasses the person who owns the dog, as well as anyone who keeps or otherwise harbors the dog, has the dog in his or her care, acts as a dog’s custodian or knowing allows a dog to remain on his or her property. As such, the actual owners of such dogs may be held liable for civil damages resulting from dog attacks, as can anyone who was otherwise housing or keeping the animal at the time the bite occurred.