Dog bites are a serious problem in Idaho. In 2021, there were 34 dog bite-related hospitalizations in the state, which is a decrease from 2020 but still increased compared to the years prior. Dog bite injuries can be severe and may cause mental, emotional, and physical trauma.

Defining Dog Bites

A dog bite is any injury caused by the teeth of a dog. Dog bites can range from minor scratches to severe lacerations, fractures, and even death.

Anyone can be bitten by a dog, but children are at the highest risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children under the age of 5 are more likely to be bitten by a dog than any other age group.

There are many reasons why a dog might bite. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Fear or aggression
  • Pain or injury
  • Protecting food or territory
  • Playing too rough
  • Being startled or surprised
  • Lack of training or socialization

If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, even if the bite seems minor. Dog bites can carry a risk of infection, including rabies. You should also report the dog bite to animal control. They will investigate the incident and determine if the dog needs to be quarantined.

There are a few things you can do to avoid being bitten by a dog:

  • Never approach a dog that you don’t know.
  • Ask permission before petting a dog, even if it is familiar to you.
  • Be careful around dogs that are eating or sleeping.
  • Be aware of your body language and avoid making sudden movements.
  • Teach children how to interact safely with dogs.

Dog Bites in Idaho

Understanding the gravity and the context of dog bites in Idaho requires a closer look at the available statistics. This data not only provides insight into the current scenario but also helps in shaping preventive measures for the future.

According to a study conducted by the Department of Health and Welfare in Idaho, there’s been an approximately 15% increase in reported dog bite incidents over the past five years. This uptick suggests that as Idaho’s population grows and more families welcome dogs into their homes, the probability of such incidents might continue to rise.

While it’s a common misconception to label certain breeds as “dangerous,” the statistics do show patterns. For instance, based on the data from the same Department of Health and Welfare study, breeds such as German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers account for almost 40% of reported dog bites in the state. However, it’s crucial to note that a dog’s behavior often relates more to its upbringing and environment than its breed.

Of the reported dog bite cases in Idaho, roughly 25% required hospitalization, as per a recent survey by the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association. Moreover, children under the age of 10 account for nearly half of these hospitalizations, underscoring the importance of monitoring young children around dogs, irrespective of the dog’s size or breed.

From an economic perspective, the aftermath of dog bites can be profound. A report by the Insurance Information Institute revealed that the average payout for a dog bite claim in Idaho was approximately $37,000 in 2020. This figure incorporates various expenses, from medical bills to lost wages and other related costs.

It’s worth noting that many minor dog bite incidents might go unreported. Hence, while these statistics provide a crucial overview, the actual number of dog bites and their repercussions could be even higher. Regular updates and more extensive data collection methods can offer a clearer picture in the future.

What the Law Says

Idaho, like many states, has specific laws governing liability in the event of dog bites.

Under Idaho law, victims have a set period, typically two years from the date of the bite, to file a lawsuit against the dog owner (Idaho Code § 5-219). This statute of limitations is critical, and failure to file within this time frame can mean a loss of the right to claim compensation.

Idaho operates under a “strict liability” doctrine for dog bites. This means that a dog owner can be held liable for injuries their dog causes, even if they had no prior knowledge of the dog being dangerous. Specifically, Idaho Code § 25-2810 states that an owner of any dog which bites another person when not provoked shall be liable to the bitten person for any damages caused by the bite.

However, there are exceptions. If a person provokes a dog or unlawfully enters a property, leading to the bite, the owner may not be held liable. It’s crucial to understand the circumstances surrounding the incident, as they can impact the outcome of a legal claim.

In various municipalities throughout Idaho, there are leash laws in place. For example, in Boise, dogs must be on a leash and under control unless in designated off-leash areas. If a dog bite occurs when a dog is off-leash in an area where a leash is mandated, it can further solidify the owner’s liability.

Victims of dog bites can seek multiple types of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in cases where the dog owner’s negligence was particularly egregious.

Given the complexities of Idaho’s dog bite laws, it’s imperative to consult with personal injury attorneys familiar with the nuances of the state’s regulations. They can provide guidance on the viability of a claim, potential damages, and the best way forward.

Protecting Your Rights: Craig Swapp & Associates

While Idaho is a haven for nature enthusiasts and pet lovers alike, it’s vital to remain informed and vigilant about potential risks such as dog bites. And if you or someone you know is affected by such an incident, remember that legal avenues exist to help you navigate the aftermath. Entrusting experienced personal injury attorneys in Idaho can make all the difference in turning a traumatic event into a bearable one.

If you’re seeking assistance with a dog bite incident or any other personal injury matter in Idaho, Craig Swapp & Associates is here to help. Avail of the top-notch services offered by our team and ensure your rights are protected. Your safety and well-being are paramount. Act now and ensure you’re in the best hands.

Contact Craig Swapp & Associates for a consultation today.


Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp