Child Bitten by Possible Service Dog at Grocery Store
A 3-year-old boy was injured in a dog attack at a Palm Desert grocery store. According to a CBS news report, the dog bite incident occurred at an Albertsons supermarket on Highway 111 in Palm Desert on Feb. 5. Kelly Emmer said she was with her toddler shopping when he asked to pet what seemed like a service dog. The dog growled and lunged at her son’s face and bit him, she said. Emmer said her son Leo was wailing and “bleeding all over himself and me.”
The dog’s owner said she is blind in her left eye and said the dog is a 14-year-old service animal. Emmer said the dog was wearing a vest but there was nothing that indicated it was a service dog or people weren’t supposed to pet it. Emmers said her son has been traumatized by the dog attack and will be going to therapy soon.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured toddler who has also apparently been emotionally affected by this dog bite incident. We hope his injuries are not severe and that he has a speedy and complete recovery.
Identifying Service Animals
This incident has left a number of people confused about how to identify service animals in a public place. There is no such thing as a universally or legally recognized certification or registering for service dogs. However, because there is no official training process or procedure, people are able to pass off fake service dogs as real ones just by giving them a vest. You can also tell a service dog apart by the way it behaves. Service dogs are trained to assist the disabled person, not protect them. They are also trained to be quiet and not to bark, growl or be disruptive.
Regardless of whether you are bitten by a real or fake service dog, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
In addition to the dog owner, the property owner of the location where the dog attack occurred could also be held liable if found negligent. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of psychological counseling/therapy, cosmetic procedures to repair scars, disfigurement and pain and suffering. An experienced dog bite lawyer can help injured victims and their families better understand their legal rights and options.