The Steps to Take to Report a Dog Bite Incident in California

Experiencing a dog bite can be a traumatic event, particularly when it results in significant injury. 

The state of California has stringent laws in place to protect citizens from dog bites and to ensure that dog owners are held accountable for the actions of their pets. 

However, navigating the process of reporting a dog bite incident isn’t always straightforward. This guide aims to clearly outline the steps you need to take if you, or someone you know, has been bitten by a dog in California. 

By following these steps, you’ll ensure that the incident is properly documented, potential future incidents are prevented and your rights are protected.

1. Seek Medical Attention

The first step to take after being bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention. Dog bites can lead to serious injuries and infections, so it’s crucial to receive appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible. 

Even if the bite seems minor, it’s important to have a medical professional assess the wound and clean it properly.

In addition to receiving medical treatment for the bite itself, it’s also important to document any other injuries sustained during the incident. 

This may include scratches, bruises, or broken bones resulting from a fall caused by the dog attack. These injuries can be included in your medical report and serve as evidence if you choose to pursue legal action.

2. Report the Incident

After seeking medical attention, the next step is to report the incident to the appropriate authorities. 

In California, dog bite incidents must be reported to both animal control and law enforcement. This is important as it ensures that the incident is properly documented and allows for an investigation to take place.

Contact your local animal control agency or law enforcement department to report the incident. They will likely ask for details such as the date, time, location, and description of the dog. If possible, provide any information you have about the owner of the dog as well.

3. Gather Evidence

While seeking medical attention and reporting the incident are important steps, it’s also crucial to gather evidence to support your case. 

This can include photographs or videos of your injuries and the scene of the incident, witness statements, and any other documentation related to the incident.

If possible, take photos of your injuries immediately after the attack, as well as during your recovery process. These images can provide powerful evidence in showing the severity of your injuries and the impact they have had on your life.

4. Consult a Personal Injury Attorney

Dog bite incidents can result in serious physical and emotional harm, as well as financial losses. 

In cases where the dog owner is found liable for the incident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

To ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve, it’s important to consult a personal injury attorney with experience in handling dog bite cases. 

They can guide you through the legal process and help you build a strong case to maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.

If you’ve been bit by a dog in California, contact a qualified personal injury attorney at Avian Law Group for assistance. 

5. File a Lawsuit

If the dog bite incident resulted in significant injuries and the owner is found liable, you may choose to file a lawsuit. 

This is typically done with the assistance of your personal injury attorney and can result in financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Before filing a lawsuit, it’s important to understand the statute of limitations for dog bite cases in California. 

In most cases, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim. However, there are exceptions to this timeline, so it’s best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs.

6. Follow Up with Authorities

Even if you choose not to pursue legal action, it’s important to follow up with the authorities after reporting the dog bite incident. 

Reporting to the proper authorities ensures that the case is properly documented and allows for any necessary actions to be taken, such as requiring the owner to take precautions to prevent future incidents.


Experiencing a dog bite is undoubtedly a distressing event, but knowing the correct steps to take afterward can mitigate the ordeal significantly. These steps ensure the incident is adequately reported, documented, and that the victim’s rights and safety are prioritized. 

From seeking immediate medical attention to consulting with a personal injury attorney, each measure contributes to building a solid case if legal action is necessary. 

It is essential to act promptly and to adhere to California’s specific rules and regulations regarding dog bites. Remember, your safety and well-being are paramount; don’t hesitate to take appropriate actions to ensure they are safeguarded.

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