In a case that will be followed closely by attorneys who prosecute and defend cases involving dog bites, a Valley Center woman has sued the San Diego County’s Animal Control for failing to take prior action against two dogs who later attacked her.
There’s no doubt the attack on Nancy Matthews was brutal. She was attacked by two boxers while trying to protect her 8 and 11-year-old children, and suffered very serious injuries, including deep bites into her scalp, arms, legs and back. She has required blood transfusions and multiple surgeries, and, ironically, cannot return to work as a veterinarian.
As someone who has represented many victims of dog bites, Ms. Matthews is truly a victim and has a great case against the owner of the dogs. But can she sue the local Animal Control? Typically governmental law enforcement agencies enjoy broad immunities that protect them in matters such as this. But if the Animal Control had enough specific information about the dangerousness of these particular dogs and failed to take action, it is conceivable the law would impose a duty upon them to take action.
The County has already filed a motion to dismiss the case and won’t go down without a fight. This is a case that we’ll follow and keep you posted.