Owning a dog can be a great experience, but dog owners can be legally liable if someone sustains injuries because the pet was not properly controlled according to the law. As a result, dog owners in California and elsewhere should take a number of steps to ensure that they reduce the chance of their own liability for their pet’s bad behavior.
Always leash dogs
Many jurisdictions have laws that require pet owners to leash their dogs whenever they are outside of their home. This helps ensure that dogs remain under control and that they’re unable to attack bystanders. If a dog owner does not leash their dog and the dog bites someone, the injured party may have a legal claim against the animal’s owner. Failure to abide by the law can make the dog’s owner liable for the damages.
Some states operate under a one-bite law that does not hold an owner responsible for the first time their animal bites someone. The notion is that the owner was not aware of the dog’s viciousness prior to the incident. Once the dog demonstrates this dangerous propensity, liability for future incidents will lie with the owner who now has a heightened duty to ensure the animal is not a threat to others. California law, however, does not adhere to this premise. If the victim is somewhere they’re legally allowed to be and they have not provoked the animal, the owner is liable for their dog’s bite.
Seeking permission from others before the dog interacts
Dogs often like to engage with bystanders while on walks outside the home. Before you allow your dog to interact with someone you encounter, it is important to first ask their permission. Such consent can help reduce the chance that a dog owner will be liable if the dog ends up injuring a bystander. In addition, some bystanders do not wish to engage with pets, so it is important to ask their consent as a matter of courtesy.
Pick up dog droppings
Another important obligation of dog ownership is to pick up the droppings of your pet. Many jurisdictions have laws requiring dog owners to properly dispose of this waste in order to ensure that others do not walk in it. People are often cited for failing to pick up after their dogs. If you have other questions about the duties of dog ownership, you may wish to speak with an attorney who is familiar with these matters.