The dog. Man’s best friend. More people own these four-legged furry bundles of love than any other pet. Usually, owners obey the laws and take responsibility to protect not only the dog but also their loved ones and the public at large. However, there are times when a dog will turn and attack, causing serious physical injury and emotional trauma.

In the United States, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, with 18% requiring medical attention.

The dog bite law

Oregon’s dog bite law holds the owner liable if he or she knowingly possesses a “potentially dangerous dog.” The 2017 Oregon Revised Statute 609.035 defines the “potentially dangerous dog” as a dog that:

  • Menaces a person while not on the keeper’s property
  • Inflicts injury on a person
  • Inflicts injury or kills a domestic animal on someone else’s property

This statute uses the phrase “without provocation.” When in reference to a dog, provocation means inciting or prodding a dog to do something it would not normally do. For example, pulling a dog’s tail may cause it to turn and bite the source of the irritation, making the dog seem aggressive. If the defendant proves the injured party provoked the dog, the plaintiff is responsible for paying his or her medical bills.

The one bite rule

 The state of Oregon enforces the “one bite rule.” Used as a defense, the owner of the dog can escape liability if he or she was not aware it was a “potentially dangerous dog.” The victim has the burden of proof to show evidence the dog has bitten or acted aggressively in the past.


 Although dog bite victims may not receive compensation when the “one bite rule” applies to the case, a person can still claim economic damages. In this situation, the injured party does not need to provide proof that the owner of the dog knew it would cause the injury. These damages can consist of lost wages and medical costs. To make a dog bite claim, a person must file a suit within two years of the incident.