Preventing Dog-Bite Liability
Dog bites are common causes of personal-injury cases, and they are often the result of negligence on the part of the dog's owner. If you own a dog, there are ways to prevent the likelihood of a dog bite from occurring.
Invest in Training
Obedience training is necessary for every dog in your household. Some people make the mistake of skipping obedience training if the dog acts appropriately around them and their family members. Such behavior does not mean the dog will obey basic commands or act appropriately in the presence of other people or animals. Your dog should always listen to commands issued by you or other members of your household. As part of obedience training, your dog should learn to walk on a leash with you in command, not running ahead of you or dragging you along.
Socialization skills are also important to minimize your dog's fear around strangers or other animals, as this can lead to aggressive behavior. A dog should be taught to not bark at passersby or pull on the leash when someone or another animal walks by. Similarly, package- or food-delivery persons should not feel intimidated by your dog when they arrive on the property.
Maintain Identification and Vet Care
Another concern with dog bites is that some owners do not have their dog properly tagged and are not up-to-date with the dog's needed vaccinations. Your dog should wear identification at all times in case it becomes lost or in case animal control needs to determine their owner. Microchips remain an invaluable tool to identify pets, since some animals can manage to remove their collar. Spaying or neutering your animal can also make them more docile and reduce the incidence of roaming and territorial behavior. Never skimp on vaccinations for your dog. Not only will vaccination protect your dog, but it will protect your family and other people who may come into contact with your dog. If a dog bite occurs, not only will you be liable for medical care if you are deemed at fault, but you may be liable for additional medical bills if the victim must go through a series of rabies shots.
Responsibility as a dog owner also means keeping your animal properly restrained when it is outside. Your dog should not be allowed to roam free in your yard if it cannot be trusted to remain within the confines of your property. When you are restraining your animal, the leash needs to be adequate for the type and size of dog. Many large dogs are strong, and a simple leash or chain tied to a fence or post may not be enough to keep them restrained.
Taking good care of your dog is also part of your responsibility, especially if the dog will be outside for several hours. Some jurisdictions limit the amount of time a dog can be tied up outside before the owner's behavior is considered animal abuse. Leaving a dog restrained outside in the heat or cold is not only cruel to the animal but also may increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior and escape attempts.
Consider Your Neighbors
Many people choose to keep their dog in the back yard so it can have the freedom to run around without the concern of intimidating people who may enter the front yard. Although this is important, you must consider how your dog's behavior impacts your neighbors. For example, a large privacy fence in the back yard may prevent your dog from escaping over the fence, but if your dog is not well behaved, it may bark or growl at people it can see or hear through the fence slats or a wire fence. Your neighbors have the right to use their back yards and should not be concerned or intimidated by a neighbor's dog who exhibits aggressive behavior.
If you have done everything possible to thwart aggressive behavior, and your dog continues to intimidate other people and animals, it may be time to reconsider your dog ownership. Although relinquishing ownership of your dog may be hurtful, the people around you have a right to live peacefully without the threat of an aggressive animal.
Talk to a lawyer such as Roberts Miceli LLP for more information about personal-injury cases.