The Joys and Woes Of Pet Ownership

Pets can bring us great joy and comfort.  We grow attached to them and they truly become a part of our families. Most people usually strive to have a well-trained pet – one that listens to commands and obeys – and for the most part they are usually able to achieve that.  However, it is important to remember that no matter how well-behaved a pet is, it is still an animal – one that is capable of natural behavior.  When threatened or scared, it is quite natural for a pet to revert to its instincts to protect itself. Even more so, a pet can instinctively act to protect its young. All too often we read about pets attacking people, even those that were unprovoked. In a case such as this, who should bear the blame when a pet attacks?

You Can’t Sue The Dog – So Who Bears The Blame?

Section 767.04 of the Florida statutes clearly sets forth the law with respect to a dog owner’s liability in the event of an attack. It states that the owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

What If It Is Not Completely The Dog’s Fault?

If a dog owner is sued as a result of their dog’s attack on a victim, the dog owner may have certain defenses available. One such defense would be that of comparative negligence. The dog owner may be able to assert this defense if the victim’s actions played any part in provoking or causing the injury. The victim’s actions would need to have been more than just a mistake and must have been intentional or reckless in order for this defense to be successful. A child victim’s age is also a factor in whether this defense will be successful. A second defense that may be available is if the attack occurs on the dog owner’s property and there is a warning sign (such as “Beware Of Dog”) clearly visible.

Prevent A Dog Bite From Happening

The Humane Society offers some good tips for preventing a dog bite from occurring in the first place. The following tips regarding respecting a dog’s personal space go a long way in making sure a dog does not feel threatened and will lessen your chances of being involved in a dog bite attack:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog;
  • Let the dog see and sniff you before attempting to pet it;
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, chewing, or eating; and
  • Do not interfere with a dog caring for its young.

Get Legal Advice Regarding Your Dog Bite Case Today

Despite our best precautions, accidents still happen. If you have been the victim of a dog bite attack, contact a legal professional to discuss your case.  An attorney who is experienced in this area of the law is available to help you decide if you have a strong case and what your course of action should be. Contact a legal professional today to learn your rights and responsibilities. Do not delay – get the advice and guidance you need today.

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