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Arizona Dog Bite Laws

While dogs are considered to be man's best friend, it's difficult to remember that if you or a loved one is a dog bite victim. Suffering a dog bite injury is traumatic and can have long-lasting effects, leaving you to wonder if someone is to blame and what your legal options might be. There's more to know about dog bites than you might expect.

In this article, we'll look at dog bite statutes in Arizona, what to do if you're the victim of a dog attack, your options if you're the owner of a dog accused of biting someone, and what's involved in filing a dog bite claim. Read on to learn about these subjects and more.

Dog Attack Overview

Most dogs are not inclined to attack people unprovoked. However, if they become frightened, threatened, or protective, the chance of a bite incident becomes very real. If you're a victim of a dog bite, your first and foremost concern should be seeking medical attention. Since that will incur medical bills, your next thought may be wondering who is liable.

Arizona does not permit dogs to be "at large." This means that while people living in Phoenix might look forward to letting their dogs run through parks and school grounds without being leashed, they will find themselves responsible for any personal injury or property damage caused by their pets in those locations.

The same restrictions apply to vicious dogs and females during their mating season. Any dog over the age of 3 months must have their license displayed on their collar or harness.

If an at-large dog attacks you in a public place or on private property you have permission to be on, the owner of the dog is likely responsible.

Liability for Dog Bites

Some states follow the "one-bite rule," which states that a domestic animal is not considered a threat until it has one bite on its record. In most instances, the dog's owner is not considered responsible for the first bite, which is considered a "free bite." If the dog bites again, the owner is considered aware and responsible for controlling the animal's vicious tendencies.

Arizona does not use the one-bite rule. Instead, it uses a strict liability law. Jurisdictions like Arizona that apply strict liability hold owners liable without the victim having to prove fault or negligence when it comes to dog bites.

Regardless of the dog's former viciousness or the owner's knowledge of its viciousness, all that the victims must show is the dog bite caused their injury. They can then hold the dog owner liable for damages that include:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages
  • Pain and suffering

You must file a dog bite report to take further action and recover damages. In many cases, you can get relief by filing a civil claim if the owner fights about paying your injury claim. If they have homeowners' insurance, the insurance companies may get involved as well. If things begin to get complicated, you might want to consider consulting with an Arizona animal bite attorney to get legal advice.

Overview of Arizona Dog Bite Laws

There’s a lot to know about dog bites and the laws that deal with them. While it's always a good idea to read the entire text of the relevant statutes while conducting legal research, it's often difficult to make sense of the legal jargon. The chart below was created to supplement your research by providing a plain-language overview of Arizona dog bite laws.

Statutes Related to Dog Bites

Arizona Revised Statutes Title 11. Counties:

  • Section 11-1025 (liability for dog bites)
  • Section 11-1026 (lawful presence on private property definition)
  • Section 11-1027 (reasonable provocation as defense)
  • Section 11-1012 (dogs not permitted at large; wearing licenses)
  • Section 11-1001 (definitions)

Possible Liability Exceptions



Any action for damages against a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work is prohibited if the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself from a harassing or provoking act.

In addition, damages against a governmental agency aren't available in any of the following circumstances:

  • In the apprehension/holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity
  • In the investigation of a crime or a possible crime
  • In the execution of a warrant
  • In the defense of a peace officer or another person

Potential Dog Bite Defenses

  • Provocation: If the injured person provokes the dog (does something that a reasonable person would believe would provoke a dog).
  • Trespassing: The injured person must be on public property or lawfully on private property during the attack.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations ranges from one year to two years, depending on the specific cause of action.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites in Arizona

There's a lot to know about dealing with dog bites in Arizona. Below is a collection of some of the more common questions on the subject.

How Long Do I Have To File a Claim After I've Been Bitten?

The time you have to file a claim will vary depending on the circumstances. In general, you will have between one and two years to file a personal injury claim as defined by the statutes of limitations in Arizona. The one-year statute of limitation refers to the statutory cause of action, while the two-year limitations apply to the common law action. Make sure you follow the appropriate steps after you've been bitten to be prepared for filing an injury claim, or contact an attorney to ensure you meet the filing deadlines.

My Dog Was Accused of Biting Someone. How Can I Fight It?

Since Arizona is a strict liability state, your only real defense is to prove your dog was provoked into attacking. If that doesn't work, you should see if your insurance will cover the damages.

If the damage inflicted on the victim rates high on the Dunbar scale, it might be a good idea to consider speaking with a defense attorney experienced with dog bite cases.

Does the Doctor Who Treats My Dog Bite Injury Have To Report It to the Police?

The medical professional who treats your wound is not required to report the bite to the police. However, they are required to report any dog bite injuries to the local animal control agency. As the person who received the dog bite, you should report it to the police yourself as part of the procedure for filing a dog bite claim. This is a crucial step for any injury claims you may seek compensation for later.

If you are the dog owner and your dog has not received the required vaccinations, the agency has the right to impound it. If your animal is deemed a vicious dog, it may be considered for euthanization.

I Got Bitten by a Dog While in Another State. Are the Laws the Same as in Arizona?

While some states share similar laws, they are not guaranteed to be the same. After seeking medical attention, find the dog bite laws of the state you were bitten in.

Arizona Dog Bite Laws: Related Resources

Questions About Arizona Dog Bite Laws? Get Answers From an Attorney

Dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite attack can be extremely stressful. If you're the one the dog bit, then you'll likely want to know all the legal options available to you. Speaking with a dog bite attorney can put you at ease during a difficult time and prepare you for the legal road ahead.

On the other hand, if your dog bites someone else, you'll want to understand your potential liability. Contact a local animal bite attorney who can explain how Arizona dog bite laws apply to your situation. A personal injury attorney specializing in defense can help you and your furry friend.

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