VA Law Aims for Dog Bite History Transparency



Each year, countless new laws are passed with little fanfare. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy for these to slip past you unnoticed. One such law passed earlier this year is one designed to help prevent violent dogs from being adopted out to families.

A new Virginia law seeks to inform new pet owners about their adoptive animals’ history of violence. Senate Bill 571, which passed in July, will require animal shelters, rescues and other adoption agencies to disclose any knowledge they might have of a pet’s violent past. The law is limited to dogs and cats, but says that any and all details about an animal’s background pertaining to biting or mauling should be shared with the adoptive family. Should the organization fail to do so, they will be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor.

When Violent Behavior Becomes a Pattern

While we’d like to believe that all animals are innocent and incapable of violent behavior, some pets are simply more likely than others to misbehave. More than just misbehavior, though, pets with a violent past are often linked to a greater likelihood of biting people again. A Virginia Beach dog bite case made headlines last year when a newly adopted pit bull fatally attacked a 90-year-old woman. The shelter has been sued by the victim’s family for not disclosing knowledge of the dog’s violent past upon adoption.

Transparency for Families

For some animal lovers, an unruly animal is a pet in need of training. For others, though, a history of biting can indicate that a dog is simply too much to take on, particularly if there are young children in the home. Every family deserves to know about the risks they take on when bringing a new pet into their home. This new law can help protect folks from taking on a dog they’re simply ill-equipped to handle, while ensuring that dangerous dogs aren’t put into unsuitable homes.

Legal Help for Victims

This new law helps protects pet owners who adopt dogs from animal shelters and rescues, but it also helps to hold such organizations responsible for the pets they adopt out. While it might be impossible to know an animal’s entire history, if a shelter knows a dog has a violent past, they owe it to adopting families to be honest about the risks.

If you or someone you love has suffered a dog bite, a Virginia dog bite lawyer may be able to help. The Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, PC has helped victims of personal injuries for over 30 years. If you were attacked by a dog because of someone else’s negligence, contact us for a free consultation.



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