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Winning a Dog Bite Case Requires Creative Investigation

Attorney Christopher C. Kerr  handled an interesting dog bite case for a two-year-old boy who sustained a nasty bite on his face while his family visited acquaintances in their rural community. Like any two-year-old, he wandered and was alone when he approached two chained dogs, a three-year-old chow and a 12-year-old mixed breed. No one saw him get bitten but everyone was shocked at his horrific injuries.

Soon after the incident, the dog owner’s insurance company pointed out that the case could not be won without proof of which dog bit the boy. The family hired Chris Kerr and he immediately consulted an expert who shared his knowledge of an Australian case (made into a movie) that centered on the difference in bite marks made by wild versus domestic dogs. Kerr obtained a court order before one or both of the dogs could be put down. The order allowed him to briefly take custody of the dogs, have them sedated, and have a dentist take impressions of their teeth.

By then Kerr had a strong belief that the three-year-old chow had bitten the boy. The dog owner had recently been given the animal by its unnamed prior owners for unknown reasons. Chows are known to be fierce aggressive protectors–it is one of the breed’s traits. The other dog in question was a 12-year-old mixed breed with no records of prior bites. Based on a rumor that the chow’s prior owners lived in a nearby Pennsylvania county, Kerr traveled there and searched two years of dog bite reports until he found record of an incident involving the same dog. It soon became clear that the Pennsylvania owners gave up the chow because of his history of biting.

When the dental impressions of the two dogs were made into plaster casts, the distance between their canine teeth was compared. The distance between the boy’s wounds was also measured. Based on the investigation and preparation of this case, the insurance company did not dispute that the chow bit the boy and that the owners knew he had vicious propensities. They paid a large settlement that was put into an annuity for the boy’s benefit.