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The Prosecution and Defense of Animal Bite and Attack Cases

Over thousands of millennia, our relationships with the other animals have formed vital threads in the complex fabric of our evolution as a species. Both prehistorically and historically, all types of human activities have shaped, and in turn been shaped by, the countless interactions which people have had with domesticated animals, from dogs to cats to horses, with livestock animals, and with wild animals.

dog w bees2Sadly, the vast majority of those interactions have been destructive ones: our written record is filled to the margins with sad journal entries listing the sorry outcomes of confrontations where the person and an animal which he or she encountered knew nothing more of each other than what instinctual fear and panic led them to act on and react to.

Whether they actually deserve the designation or not, we see nearly all large, uncommon, and/or wild animals as inherently dangerous creatures, and even tend to consider many domesticated animals as at least potentially dangerous. Our large brains being our most significant evolutionary adaptation, it is the attainment of knowledge which can most easily be counted as any person's greatest defense against any danger, including and especially those dangers that other animals can and do often pose to us in our daily lives.

dog fightSome knowledge is simply pragmatic and of limited usefulness: knowing how to physically defend yourself against an animal attack once it is in progress, for instance, is important but of restricted value, being a task involving one simply being capable, agile, and adept enough in their actions to stop or lessen a threatened harm.

Knowing enough about animals before any attack even occurs, however, is a more valuable type of knowledge, a matter of piecing together awareness and understanding in taking precautionary steps that might enable one to avoid needing a physical response in the first place. Simply learning all about animals – where they live, what they eat, how they socialize, how they operate in different environments, and how they communicate – are all highly valuable elements to developing healthy and respectful associations with them.

All of this, in a sense, starts early on in our lives, usually as a child owning a pet. Owning a pet is really our first and often most important science lesson: dogs and cats in particular help teach us from a very young age about the nature of responsibility; about the peculiarities of digestion, excretion, illness, and sexual conduct; about the effects of patience, kindness, and humor; and can even stage a tender preview for the inevitable tragedy of aging and death which every person themselves eventually encounters in their own personal lives as adults.

horse groupsAs a result of the lengthy alliance between humans and domesticated animals such as household pets, there is probably no sphere in which the growth of our humanitarian sentiment has been more striking than in our ever-evolving treatment and training of our pets. Demands for obedience through the use of barbarities such as fear, torture, and the use of physical force has, for the most part, now been relegated to the disgraces of our past – more recent tools have involved approaches based on sympathy, empathy, patience, affection, socialization, the employment of good biological information, and even concerns for environmental health.
Interacting with them, knowing about them, learning to treat them well and train them responsibly still does not prevent being hurt by them, and it is an unhappy but real fact of life that people do get hurt by animals in a variety of circumstances. It is true of course that any one of us, in our lifetimes, is far, far more likely to be hurt by a car, a machine at work, or by another person, than by an animal. Still, while at least for urban areas the statistical truth is that very few animals attack or hurt very few humans, the intensely personal stories one reads or hears about animal attacks can leave deep enough impressions on us to make attack frequency and severity seem much more significant than they actually are.

Because of how human minds work and have developed, the recounting of an animal bite or attack incident tends to focus on the strongest emotional factors to the exclusion of all else – how the victim personally felt at the moment of impact, how brutal the wounds looked, how vicious, helpful, wicked, fortunate, etc. were the other actors involved.

Certainly, the dramatic telling of these stories at one and the same time poses both an aid to public safety and a real danger of distorting rational perceptions of animal-human interactions specifically and of animals in general. Every person concerned with an animal attack has a different take in its exposition and meaning, and – depending on the group to which they belong – may have their own political or social agenda to pursue in the recounting as well.

A victim, for instance, may yearn for the animal owner involved in an attack to simply reassess their behavior and embrace some form of personal responsibility – yet hear instead outrageous excuses and poorly reasoned justifications. A victim may hope for a reporting journalist to serve the larger public interest by documenting the attack and educating readers of known dangers – yet watch the media instead sensationalize the incident solely in order to fan flames of generalized anxiety or gain social notoriety. And a victim may well urge a law enforcement body or local agency involved to propose and implement plain and effective official solutions to concerns raised by an attack, such as reasonable restrictions on ownership perhaps – only to find that those folks can be just as inclined as any to incite conflict by exploiting drama and taking unreasonable positions along with the rest.

For all their differences, agendas, and shortcomings, all of these groups do share at least one thing in common, however, and that is none of them have any particular concern for or desire to repair the harm to the actual victim of the attack. A separate group, on the other hand, does distinguish itself well in that regard, and that is attorneys. Regardless of how cultural perceptions about lawyers may have shifted back and forth over the years – be it regaling them as guardians of the public trust or scorning them as charlatans and con artists of the lowest degree – it remains a solid truth that only a person's private legal counsel has the power, incentive, and inclination to assist the victim individually, and to locate, pursue, and obtain a remedy created personally for the victim themselves.

In general, a physical or emotional injury can often be one of the most traumatic events of a person's life. When one gets hurt by another's careless, reckless, or intentional actions, everything in their normal life can and often does come to a screeching halt. Even where a person might think that physically they will eventually be okay, certain types of injuries can nevertheless persist, certain financial harms cannot be avoided and might even escalate, and certain stresses and anxieties may well continue to trigger emotional pain and discomfort for a significant period of time.

Given the high emotional charge accompanying how we feel about animals both wild and tame, all of these generic concerns can be escalated and intensified when the injury is the result of an animal attack. One of the wisest moves one can make when they have been harmed in those particular circumstances is to protect themselves and others by consulting with a lawyer whose specialty and expertise is in the area of the law and science about animal bites and animal attack-related injuries.

None of the equation should change simply because the injured person is themselves an animal owner or loves animals in general – all of us at one time or another in our lives enjoy strong feelings for a favorite pet or for a certain group of animals. The right not to be harmed, however, is not abrogated by having such feelings. Neither does one need to be particularly vindictive or vicious to achieve what is ultimately deserved in the form of compensation or repair expenses for an animal attack-related harm; victims can be both compassionate and firm at the same time in a justifiable presentation of their claims. What is unavoidable is that every animal bite or attack victim eventually has to take some active steps to obtain relief, as it is a sad but true fact that the offending party or owner will very rarely simply provide a full and reasonable solution voluntarily.

As an attorney for over 27 years and as a published research scientist with an extensive knowledge of animals, their anatomy, their physiology, and their behaviors, I have an immense familiarity with assessing, pursuing, and making valuable claims about animals, including as inherently dangerous or potentially dangerous creatures. Even if you have been told by an insurance company, by a police officer or animal control officer at the scene, or by some casual friend or relative that you don't have a claim regarding some manner of bite or attack, your specific interests can truly only be best served by a professional whose specific job it is to determine exactly if you do or not, and to then protect you from the expense, further harm, and continued pain and stress of what you're going through.

Not just knowing, but having as your own, a great lawyer to assist you in an animal-related bite or attack case is incredibly important. Personal responsibility, foreseeable consequence, fair reparation, and monetary value are among the integral components of every type of animal bite or attack case, and an experienced, professional, clever, and competent attorney such as I can provide tremendous assistance in responding to every one of those aspects. As you call for a consultation, I believe you will find that I have the unique set of qualities required to make the best analysis and to obtain the best relief for you. I think you will find that I am honest, easy to talk to, and resourceful, and will be glad to take your own personal interests to heart in helping you not just figure out what can be done about an animal bite or attack claim, but how to have you actually come out healthy and ahead on all issues as well.

Criminal Defense

  • Animal abuse
  • Animal neglect
  • Animal abandonment or fighting
  • Illegal import/export and trafficking
  • Wildlife violations
  • Animal dealing or hoarding
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Bites and Attacks

  • Injuries from dogs
  • Injuries from other domestic animals
  • Injuries from exotics
  • Ongoing animal nuisances
  • Confinement and trespass issues
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Office Address
831 SW Hume St.
Portland, Oregon 97219
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