What a San Antonio Dog Attack Case Can Teach Us About Dog Bite Prevention
Recently, a couple from San Antonio, Texas was convicted after a dog they owned viciously mauled their 73-year-old neighbor Doris Mixon Smith. Alphonso McCloud was sentenced to four years in prison and his wife, Stanyelle Miles-McCloud was sentenced to ten years of probation.
On March 6, 2017 Mixon Smith had been gardening in her front yard when the dog belonging to her neighbor got out and started attacking her. As a result of the attack, Mixon Smith lost one of her arms and the right side of her face was torn from eyebrow to chin. The McClouds’ 10-year-old son witnessed the attack and tried to stop the dog by hitting it with a stick.
During the trial, Mixon Smith testified that she would notify the McClouds when the dog got out of the yard and that a lock had been put on their gate. On the day of the attack, the lock on the fence was missing. Earlier that day, Mixon Smith had been mowing her lawn and when the dog nearly got out, she notified a relative of the McClouds who was in the house. The relative stated she was afraid of the dogs, but would tell someone. About three hours later, Mixon Smith was attacked.
When Alphonso McCloud was testifying during the trial, he stated that he had removed the lock from the fence because he got tired of having to remove it every time someone came to mow his back yard. Instead, he put a metal rod in that he’d twisted and bent to prevent the dog from getting out. When the fact that the dog had injured a cable repairman in October 2016 was brought up, both Alphonso and Stanyelle denied that the dog had bitten the repairman, but had just scratched him. However, the dog was quarantined for two weeks after the incident.
It’s important to note that Texas has different dog bite laws than we have here in Michigan. Texas is a “one bite” state, meaning that dog owners can only be held liable for dog bite injuries if they knew the dog had bitten someone or acted aggressively before or if the dog owner was negligent in controlling the dog. Michigan has a strict liability dog bite law, meaning dog owners can be held liable for dog bite injuries even if the dog had never bitten anyone in the past. But regardless of where you live, this case is a very sad, but important, reminder of some of the things that can be done to prevent dog bites from happening.
First of all, this is a prime example of dog owners having several warning signs that went ignored. Not only did Mixon Smith state that she had a history of letting the McClouds know when their dog got out of their yard, she had notified a relative of theirs on the day of the attack that their dog had nearly gotten out. Not to mention the fact that the dog had injured a cable repairman to some degree before Doris Mixon Smith was attacked. For a lot of dog owners, their pet is a beloved member of the family and don’t want to believe it could ever seriously hurt someone. But cases like this are exactly why any warning signs of aggression need to be taken very seriously.
Another important lesson from this attack how important it is to make sure your yard is secure enough to properly contain your dog. Not only did the McCloud family have multiple warnings that their dog was prone to aggressive behavior and to getting out of the yard, they admitted to taking the lock off their fence because it was inconvenient for them. Secured fences shouldn’t be seen as an annoyance, they should be seen as an important line of protection for your pet, your neighbors, and your visitors. Even if your dog doesn’t have a history of biting people, there’s still a chance they could get lost, attacked by another animal, or hit by a car if the yard isn’t properly secured. Remember that electric fences aren’t always enough to encourage a dog to stay in the yard and might not be an effective way to protect visitors to your property.
If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite or have any questions about dog bite law, contact a dog bite lawyer right away. Being bitten or attacked by a dog is an extremely upsetting and overwhelming experience, so it can be hard to know what to do. A lawyer can help answer your questions and help you understand your options and rights.
Our personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka are eager to help in all types of personal injury cases like slip and fall lawsuits. Contact us if you or a loved one has sustained an injury so we can help you get the just compensation.