Does California have special rules for adopting dogs?

People choosing to adopt a dog in California may give a loving home to an equally loving pet. However, some breeds might be more dangerous than others. Dangerous dogs could bite someone, leaving an owner potentially liable for injuries. The Golden State has adopted a shelter rule policy that provides owners with insights into a dog’s bite history.

Bite history disclosure requirements

California statutes require animal shelters to provide written notice to individuals adopting dogs with a known bite history. The person adopting the dog must sign a form disclosing the understanding that the dog has a previous bite history.

Those who learn about the dog’s history could then make determinations about whether to go forward with the adoption. A dog might not be a bad pet, but the person’s homeowners insurance policy might not cover a pet with a bite history. Therefore, if the dog bit someone, insurance protections wouldn’t be in place.

Also, someone who does adopt a pet with a bite history must understand the necessity to take extra steps to prevent incidents. For example, the owner may opt to muzzle the dog when walking it.

Negligence claims may arise

An owner who understands that a dog previously bit someone might find it difficult to defend a personal injury lawsuit that hinges on negligence. An owner who allows a potentially dangerous pet to run around unsupervised in a yard with a low fence might be putting others at risk. Allowing the dog to run around off its leash at a park could be negligence as well.

The shelter or rescue facility might find itself liable if it fails to disclose information about dog bites. So could the person who gave the dog up for adoption. Withholding information either by accident or design may factor into a potential civil suit. Persons injured by a dog may wish to discuss the incident with an attorney.