Team 10: San Diego man suing over severe bite by rescue dog

Lawsuit: Rescue group, county failed to do its job

SAN DIEGO - It’s a dog bite so severe, it tore a man’s nose right off.

And the family said it could have been prevented.

“I was horrified to have this happen to my son,” said Mark, who did not want to publish his last name.

“It’s a very hard thing to watch as a parent,” added Mark’s wife, Maggie.

They are speaking on behalf of their 21-year-old son. Their son is suing the organization, Labrador and Friends, and the County of San Diego.

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The family does not want the public to get the wrong picture. They love dogs.

“They’ve been a good part of our family over the years,” Mark said.

“I actually grew up with several labs, in addition to the three that we’ve had,” Maggie said.

That is why they wanted to bring another one into their family.

On December 20, 2014, they went to an adoption event in Scripps Ranch hosted by the group Labrador and Friends.

“They were very diligent about giving us information, dog’s veterinary records, his chip, [and] various other life history,” Mark said.

But Mark and Maggie say the rescue group failed to tell them one critical thing—the dog attacked a woman just two weeks before. They say the organization knew about it.

According to their son’s lawsuit, the dog “attacked a woman and inflicted a severe bite, which almost severed one of her fingers” on December 8, 2014.

The woman was taken to the hospital.

The lawsuit states nobody from Labrador and Friends informed the family about the prior dog attack.

Fast forward to January 24, 2015.

Mark was watching television with his son and got up to leave the room. Then, he “heard the most horrible sound.”

The dog had bitten their son.

At that point, Mark did not know how severe the injury was. He grabbed a towel for his son and they brought him to the hospital.

“In my wildest dreams, the whole drive down there I couldn’t imagine it was that bad. I didn’t expect for it to be as shocking as it was,” Maggie said.

“This is a failure on many levels. This is a case where they protected dogs, but not people,” said their son’s attorney, Fred Dudek.

The lawsuit filed against the rescue group and the County of San Diego alleges both hid information. It says the County Department of Animal services violated its clear policies on dog bites.

“This all could have been avoided by a simple phone call. If any of these defendants had contacted the family and informed them that just a few weeks before, this dog had severely injured someone else, they would have adopted a different dog and we would never be here,” Dudek said.

“Had he been a child, it could have been so much worse,” Maggie said.

Their son still has another surgery to go, as well as laser procedures.

“I think this story needs to be told so people are not blindly adopting a dog from an organization that might be a potential risk in their home,” Maggie said.

Mark told Team 10 other families need to be careful.

“I want to tell other families it’s okay to adopt pets. We’re not anti-dog by any means, but you do have to do your homework,” Mark said.

Mark and Maggie said anyone looking to adopt should ask questions, including whether that animal has attacked anyone in the past.

Dudek suggests getting that in writing.

A county spokesperson told me they don’t comment on pending litigation.

Calls and emails to the rescue organization were not returned.

In California, there are strict liability laws when it comes to dog bites, meaning the owner is liable. But Mark and Maggie’s son is also suing for fraud, saying they would have never adopted the dog had anyone told them what happened. 

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