How to Report a Dog Bite in Washington State

A dog attack is a frightening and unexpected event that can result in serious injuries. It is normal to feel overwhelmed if you find yourself in this situation in Washington State. It is important, however, to take steps to protect your rights immediately – including reporting the dog bite to the correct agencies and authorities in your county.

What to Do Right After a Human Is Bitten by a Dog

If you get bitten by a dog or witness someone else get attacked, find a safe location right away. If it is a stray, call animal control immediately for assistance containing the dog. Otherwise, get the name and contact information of the pet owner when it is safe to do so. Then, prioritize the victim’s physical well-being. If the dog bite injury is minor, it may be treated at home with the following steps:

  • Wash the wound with mild soap and water and use a clean cloth to stop any bleeding. 
  • Use a topical antibiotic cream if available. 
  • Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage.
  • Change the bandage several times a day.
  • Watch for signs of infection, such as red streaks, swelling or fever. 
  • If you notice signs of an infection, see a doctor immediately.

If the injury is serious or breaks the skin, get professional medical care without delay. The amount of bacteria that dogs have in their mouths puts you at high risk of infection and disease if you do not seek professional treatment.

How to Report a Dog Bite Injury in Clark County, Washington

You should always report a dog bite injury to animal control authorities in the county where the attack took place. Reporting the dog bite can help the county keep track of vicious or dangerous dogs, which can keep the community safe. It can also result in the mandatory quarantine of the dog to check for rabies for health purposes. If you are in Clark County, use the following phone numbers to report the dog bite injury:

  • If it is an emergency, call 911.
  • Clark County Animal Control Services: (360) 397-2488.
  • Clark County Sheriff’s Office: (360) 397-2211

If the dog bite occurred in another jurisdiction, you can find the appropriate phone number to call on the Clark County website. You can also visit the Public Service Center in person to report an incident during regular business hours, by appointment only, at 1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA. However, citizens are encouraged to file their reports by phone or email (

Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury Under Washington Law?

According to Washington Revised Code, Title 16, Section 16.08.040, the owner or keeper of a dog that bites any person shall be liable for damages that are suffered by the victim, regardless of the dog’s former vicious behaviors or the owner’s knowledge thereof. This is a strict liability law, meaning it is not necessary to prove a pet owner’s negligence to hold him or her financially responsible for a dog attack. As long as the victim was on public property or lawfully in a private place, he or she will have grounds to file a claim against a pet owner for damages.

When you are ready to seek financial compensation for the dog bite injury, contact the pet owner’s property insurance provider. The average homeowners insurance policy covers injuries caused by a dog, as pets are viewed as property. Call the dog owner’s insurer to report the incident and demand fair compensation for your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Tell a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer Your Story

Consulting with a dog bite injury lawyer in Vancouver is the best way to pursue the financial compensation that you need after a dog attack. A lawyer can protect your best interests during insurance claim negotiations and while communicating with the pet owner. A lawyer can take care of the claims process for you while you heal. For more information about what to do after suffering a dog bite injury in Washington, contact us for a free consultation.

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