According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over 2,000 people per day receive medical attention for dog-bite-related injuries. Many of these dog bites occur in urban settings. Thus, as a Chicago resident, chances are you’ve encountered a dangerous dog while walking around the city. What you may not know is that the City of Chicago has specific procedures in place through which you can file a “service request” related to a vicious dog.
What Is a Service Request?
A service request is used to report certain concerns related to pets, non-pets and rodents. You can submit a service request online, which then sends a notification to the appropriate city government division. Note that a service request is not a substitute for calling 911, and anyone who has been injured or is immediately threatened by a dangerous animal should call 911 rather than submit a service request.
What Types of Service Requests Can Chicago Residents Submit?
The City of Chicago allows residents to submit all kinds of service requests, ranging from building code violations to consumer protection to garbage and recycling. However, as they pertain to pets, residents have five choices:
Nuisance Animal Complaint
The nuisance animal complaint is used to report complaints of unlicensed or unvaccinated dogs, as well as issues related to owners not cleaning up after their pets. A nuisance service request is generally intended to address concerns related to domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. However, the City of Chicago will remove or relocate wildlife if it is injured or poses a threat to residents.
Reporting an Injured Animal
An injured animal service request can be made anytime someone encounters an animal that has been hurt and is still alive. For example, you may submit a service request if you find a dog that appears to have been hit by a car. The City will only respond if the injured animal is located on public property.
Pet Wellness Check
Pet wellness checks are used by those who have concerns about a pet’s wellbeing. For example, if someone suspects that a neighbor is mistreating their dog, they can submit a pet wellness check, and the city will send someone out to inspect the premises. However, the city may require a person making a pet wellness service check to provide some evidence documenting their concerns.
Vicious Animal Complaint
The vicious animal service request is used to report any animal that appears dangerous. This includes a dog that attacks another person or pet or attempts to attack. However, in the event of an actual dog bite, it is important that you also report the attack to 911, even if your injuries do not appear severe. This is because when you call 911, the operator will generate a Bite Report.
What Is Considered a Vicious Dog?
In reality, most people know a vicious dog when they see one. However, the City of Chicago has a specific ordinance that defines a “vicious dog.” Under Cook County Code of Ordinances § 10-77, a vicious dog is that “without justification, attacks a person and causes serious physical injury or death or any individual dog that has been found to be a ‘dangerous dog’ upon three separate occasions.” The City of Chicago considers a dog “dangerous” if it “behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or a companion animal in a public place.”
So, under these definitions, a dog is vicious if it either causes serious bodily injury or death one time or is found to have posed a threat to residents on three different occasions.
What Must Owners of Vicious Dogs Do to Keep the Public Safe?
Once an animal is labeled as a vicious dog, the animal must be spayed or neutered. The owner must also implant a microchip under the dog’s skin unless the dog is always kept in an enclosure. The only time a vicious dog can leave its enclosure is:
1.) To obtain veterinary care;
2.) In the case of a natural disaster; or
3.) To comply with a court order.
Even under these circumstances, a vicious dog must be kept on a leash not exceeding six feet in length. Any vicious dog that is found not confined in an enclosure will be impounded. Unless the animal’s owner appeals this finding within 15 days, the dog may be euthanized.
Why Is It Important to Report Dangerous and Vicious Dogs?
If you see a dangerous-looking dog, but it isn’t posing a threat to you, it is still important that you let the city know of the dog’s existence. Just because you were not placed in harm’s way by the dog at that instant, there is no telling who may encounter the dog in the future.
By filing a service request, residents can help to identify dangerous dogs, which may then lead to the dog being classified as a “vicious dog.” This can help the city keep track of the animal and, in the event it ever attacks anyone, evidence of the service request may help support that dog bite victim’s case against the owner.
Chicago Dog Bite Laws
In Illinois, there is no requirement that a dog bite victim proves an animal was labeled as vicious to pursue a dog bite lawsuit. This is because Illinois is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. As a result, as long as you were acting peaceably, did not provoke the animal, and were in a place where you were legally allowed to be, there is no need to prove that the owner was negligent of that their animal had been classified as a vicious dog. However, in certain situations, having evidence that a dog acted viciously in the past can help a victim’s case.
If you or a family member was recently attacked by a dog, you may have a claim against the animal’s owner. However, Illinois dog bite laws can be complex, especially when serious injuries are involved. Thus, it’s always best to consult with an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer before proceeding with your case.
Schedule a Free Consultation with the Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg Today
If a dog recently attacked you, your child, or another loved one, reach out to the dedicated Chicago dog bite law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. Since 1987, Briskman Briskman & Greenberg attorneys have been standing up for the rights of dog bite victims, helping to connect them with meaningful compensation for what they’ve been through. We have also facilitated the removal of countless vicious dogs throughout the city, helping to keep residents safe. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer today, call 877-595-4878. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.