When Dogs Attack, the Law Bites Back
A six-year-old Jacksonville girl died a few days ago after being attacked by a dog in her family’s care.
Since the dog’s bite resulted in a death, the animal will be euthanized after the 10-day quarantine unless the owner files an appeal. If an appeal is filed, the dog will be held while the appeal is pending.
Dog bites are serious incidents, far beyond the cartoon of a postal worker being chased from a yard. Like many accidents and injuries, the issue isn’t always cut and dry.
If you’re bitten by a dog or your dog bites someone, the court will likely want to determine a few key points;
- Was the dog provoked?
- Was the action of the dog considered “dangerous activity” from which the law seeks to protect the general public?
- Does the dog have a history of attacking people?
- Did the person attacked know about the dog’s history?
- Did the dog’s action cause actual harm?
In many states, dog owners are held liable for their pet’s behavior. Some states actually allow one free bite.
“This means if the dog hasn’t displayed dangerous or violent tendencies in the past, the owner may not be held liable unless he or she had that specific, prior knowledge the dog may bite or attack someone,” according to InjuryFindLaw.com.
“Strict liability unless person is trespassing or committing a crime or tort on private property of owner or there is a visible “Bad Dog” sign on display.”
Some cities and counties go a step further and have enacted leash laws, which require dog owners to have man’s best friend on a leash when not on their personal property. Some states carry leash laws, but mostly, it’s cities and counties that enact these regulations.
Broward County has a leash law for dogs but not cats. (Take a look) In Palm Beach County, leashes are required when walking a dog. Miami-Dade County has a similar law.
“It’s a public-safety issue for dogs to be off a leash,” said Dianne Sauve, the county’s director of animal care and control in a report by the Palm Beach Post. “There is a trigger point for every animal.”