Adopted Dogs, the SPCA and Dog Attacks

Posted on: January 12th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

In the last week of December 2011, 2 PA dog attacks were reported as being caused by dogs recently adopted from the SPCA/local animal shelters. What kind of duty does the SPCA owe the public regarding these dogs?

On the one hand, the SPCA has limited space and financial resources. Their goal is to adopt out as many dogs as possible to minimize the number of dogs required to be put down, as well as having kennel space for new dogs requiring a temporary home.

However, are dogs being provided for adoption that endanger the lives of their new owners and the public at large? On Dec. 23, 2011, a Lansdale dog bite victim was walking in her kitchen when her Labrador mix suddenly and without provocation attacked her. She had just adopted it from the SPCA a few weeks earlier.

On December 26, 2011, a Sutersville PA woman was attacked by dogs she had adopted from local shelters. The lead attack dog was a pit bull. The Westmoreland County dog attack victim sustained bite wounds to her arms, hands and side. She was admitted to Allegheny General Hospital for ongoing medical care.

This author is unaware of any provision of the PA Dog Law which requires the SPCA or a local animal shelter to specifically disclose any past vicious propensities on the part of the dogs they are looking to adopt out. Any information our readers have regarding a specific rule or regulation would be appreciated.

Attorney Newell represents dog bite victims throughout Pennsylvania. Current/recent clients reside in the following Counties: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Westmoreland and York. Call 800-980-4842 for a free home consultation with a PA personal injury lawyer with 30 years of experience. Please also see his website: