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Elderly Woman On a Walk Killed in Southern California Dog Attack

Dog attack

Soon Han, an 80-year-old woman, was mauled to death in a horrific dog attack when she was out for a walk on the morning of Oct. 7.

According to a CBS News report, San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner officials said deputies found Han unresponsive in a roadway in the rural desert community of Baldy Mesa. They believe she was out for a walk when two dogs from a nearby home attacked her. The dogs left her with major injuries, and she died at the scene.

Relatively New Dog Breed

Officials said the owner of the dogs is cooperating with the investigation. Animal control officials have taken custody of the dogs; both described as Dogos Argentinos. This breed of dog is large, white, and muscular, similar in size to the Presa Canario. It originates in Argentina primarily for the purpose of big game hunting, including wild boar. They have also been used in search and rescue and military and police operations as service dogs.

While the American Kennel Club says they could make “great household pets,” the organization also warns that they are only suitable for the “right owners.” The breed has, however, been banned in the U.K., New Zealand, Denmark, and several other countries.

Dogos Argentinos are generally protective of their owners. The Kennel Club says early socialization and training are crucial for these dogs, adding that this breed is unsuitable for inexperienced dog owners or those unable or unwilling to take charge. The breed was first recognized by the organization in 2020.

This incident is the latest in a string of deadly dog attacks in the U.S. In October 2022, two young children died, and their mother was hospitalized after their family dogs – both pit bulls – attacked them in Tennessee. In another recent incident, an 89-year-old woman died from injuries she sustained when two dogs attacked her and her 12-year-old grandson in Colorado.

Dog Bite Statistics

According to, an advocacy organization for dog bite victims, in the 13-year period between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2017, dogs killed at least 433 people in the United States. The 13-year data set shows the combination of pit bulls, rottweilers, and “baiting” bull breeds, fighting, and guardian breeds (American bulldogs, mastiffs, bullmastiffs, Presa Canarios, and Cane Corsos) contributed to over 80% of all dog bite deaths nationwide. Regarding age groups, children aged 0 to 2 comprised 27% of the victims. The 50-69 and over 70 age groups followed each accounting for 18% of all deaths.

Dog Attack Laws in California

California has a strict liability statute regarding dog bites and animal attacks. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” This means there are few exceptions when dog owners are not liable for the injuries, damages, and losses their pets cause.

“Strict liability” means that the dog owner is liable for their dog’s actions regardless of whether they knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. It is immaterial whether the owners knew that their dogs had been dangerous or had attacked before or whether the animal showed prior signs of aggression. An owner cannot defend himself or herself by saying he or she had no idea the dog was dangerous.

Seeking Compensation for Losses

If you have been injured in a California dog attack, you may be able to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatment, cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, permanent injuries and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. The damage caused by dog attacks is not just physical but also psychological. Victims may struggle with paranoia, fear of dogs, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The damages in dog attack cases should also cover the cost of psychological therapy.

If you have been injured by a dog in California, you may wonder who will pay your medical bills and other damages. In a number of cases, the compensation for injuries and damages in a dog bite claim comes from the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Many dog owners include their dogs on their homeowner’s insurance policy. In such cases, their insurance policy will cover any claim against the dog owner.

A skilled California personal injury lawyer can help advise families about various insurance policies applied to dog attack cases and assist you with securing maximum compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. The dog bite attorneys at Bisnar Chase have won significant recoveries for countless dog attack victims.

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California Personal Injury Blog