How To Be An Expert Witness in Dog Bite Cases

Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., CAAB Emeritus,  and Daniel Estep, Ph.D., CAAB

On average, around 20 people each year are killed by dogs.  Thousands more are bitten in reported and unreported bites, many of them children.  While it is unlikely you’ll be asked to serve as an expert in a fatal or other highly publicized case (between the two of us we’ve been experts in five fatal cases) it’s much more likely you might be asked to be an expert witness in a dog bite case or other dispute about a pet in your community.

Because such requests do stroke one’s professional ego, it’s tempting to say “yes”, and not find out until it’s too late that you really weren’t prepared for the job you signed on for.  If you find yourself in way over your head, you run the risk of not only damaging the case, but also your reputation and the public image of others who share your credentials, whatever those may be.

Being a credible and professional expert witness requires skills beyond practical experience working with dogs (or whatever species you’ve been asked to give expert testimony about) and being well versed in the sciences of animal behavior and learning.

We’ve served in the expert role in more than a hundred legal cases, testified in court in five states, and had the benefit of several mentors along the way.  But we’ve also learned a myriad of “dos and don’ts” the hard way – by making mistakes that were not fun to experience.
In this course you’ll first learn how to decide if being an expert witness is a role you are suited for and what types of cases would be a good match for your skill set at the present time.  We’ll tell you what to say and what questions to ask during that initial conversation with an attorney, prosecutor or pet owner and what we’ve included in our consulting contracts.

We’ll describe the sorts of activities and types of tasks you could be asked to perform, and how to set limits on what you should not or are not able to do.  We’ll discuss the documents that are part of most cases, as well as ones you should be prepared to ask for.

A written report is the work product you’ll most often be asked to produce, although a small percentage of cases progress to depositions and/or court testimony.  We’ll give you an outline for producing a concise, professional report suitable for most cases and share with you what to expect and how we prepare for depositions and testimony, as well as what pitfalls to avoid.

Whether you’re interested in adding expert witness services, had a bad or less than stellar experience already and want to do better next time, or are just curious what being an expert witness in an animal related case is all about, this course is for you.

As soon as you register you will have 3 months access to complete this 2 session course.

This course has been approved for the following CEU credits;
CPDT-KSA Knowledge:1.5
CBCC-KSA Knowldege:1.5

You can earn CEUs by submitting emailed answers to questions asked by the instructors during the recorded class. We’ll provide the details once you register.

Still have questions about the course? Email us at

Registration Fee: $97.00 Register for the course using the Paypal button below

PLEASE NOTE: Pro members of our Behavior Education Network have access to this webinar at no charge, as part of their member benefits. Pro Members – log into BEN for access to this course. Not a BEN Member? Join TODAY!