Pet Legal

NO EXCUSE For Animal Abuse

posted January 15th, 2010 by
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By Lloyd Benedict

We should take a few moments and think about the well being of the little furry guys that bring so much joy and companionship to our lives. Pet ownership is by no means a minor responsibility, as pets are very vulnerable and totally rely upon us for their every need. It’s unimaginable to believe that there are many folks that abuse and neglect animals. More regretfully, much animal abuse goes unreported. It is my hopes that this article will help Tulsans become more vigilant in dealing with animal abuse and neglect.

Oklahoma has strong laws compared to other States that address animal cruelty, as our penalties range from a misdemeanor all the way to a felony that carries five (5) years in the State Penitentiary. Interestingly, Tulsa does not appear to have a specific Ordinance for such violations, but instead appears to rely upon our State law for such. According to Oklahoma State Law Title 21 ß1685:

Any person who shall willfully or maliciously overdrive, overload, torture, destroy or kill, or cruelly beat or injure, maim or mutilate, any animal in subjugation or captivity, whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprive any such animal of necessary food, drink or shelter; or who shall cause, procure or permit any such animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, tortured, destroyed or killed, or cruelly beaten or injured, maimed or mutilated, or deprived of necessary food, drink or shelter; or who shall willfully set on foot, instigate, engage in, or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00). Any officer finding an animal so maltreated or abused shall cause the same to be taken care of, and the charges therefore shall be a lien upon such animal, to be collected thereon as upon a pledge or a lien.

Despite Tulsa’s absence of a specific animal abuse Ordinance, the Tulsa Animal Welfare website is extremely helpful in understanding how to identify abuse and neglect and how to properly report it. Their website can be viewed in its entirety at www.cityoftulsa.org/city-services/ animal-welfare/abuse.aspx. According to their website, it is important for a person witnessing animal abuse to understand the types of animal cruelty. That is to say, there are two categories of cruelty: Passive and Active. Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, where the crime is a lack of action rather than the action itself – however do not let the terminology fool you. Severe animal neglect can cause incredible pain and suffering to an animal. Examples of neglect are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and failure to seek veterinary care when an animal needs medical attention. On the other hand, Active cruelty implies malicious intent, where a person has deliberately and intentionally caused harm to an animal. If you witness or know about persons committing these offenses, the site recommends that you call Animal Welfare or the Tulsa Police Department immediately.

Tell the person answering the phone:

• Where the animal is – street address would be extremely helpful
• Describe the breed
• Size
• Color
• Any distinct markings on the animal
• Where it may live
• If it is wearing a collar or tags, as well
as description
• Also describe the situation that you believe constitutes cruelty to the animal(s) and a description of any individuals and/or vehicles involved.

If you witness such animal abuse and are reluctant to get involved, you may want to consider the fact that the same folks committing these crimes appear to be connected to other destructive behavior in our society. According to Inhumane.com studies show there is overwhelming evidence that human abusers, murderers or violent criminals began their abuse first with their own pets. In 1997 Boston’s Northeastern University and the MSPCA did a study that found 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other crime and that 40% had committed violent crimes against humans. Studies also found that a history of animal abuse was found in 25% of male criminals, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of domestic violence cases and 46% of homicide cases. 30% of convicted child molesters and 48% of convicted rapists admitted animal cruelty in their childhood. In 2000, 7% of animal cruelty cases involved child abuse. The perpetrators either abused the children or forced them to witness the cruelty to animals. 13% of the animal cruelty cases involved domestic abuse. 1% of animal cruelty cases involved elder abuse. In light of these studies, it is our duty as citizens to report animal abuse as it may be our only visible indication of a much deeper crime being committed upon our neighbors.

Lloyd Benedict is a principal in the Benedict Law Office, Tulsa, and is a member of the Tulsa County Bar Association Animal Committee.

Finders Keepers? Think Again.

posted October 15th, 2009 by
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Story By LLOYD BENEDICT

AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES we happen upon lost items of value, such as jewelry, sunglasses, and occasionally even a cute cuddly pet. The first thought most folks have when they find something of value is whether or not they keep the item they found. The quick answer is maybe, but one should know how Oklahoma laws deal with these matters before they become too attached to their find. Rescuing an animal from a shelter is not the same as finding a stray animal. The reason is pet owners lose all ownership rights if the pet is not claimed from the shelter within the time required by law. In Tulsa, the reclaim period can be as short as three days before the pet can be put up for adoption. Once a pet is adopted from the shelter, the new owner will have full legal ownership. Finding strays, on the other hand, can raise the question of whether the pet was abandoned, or did it simply get loose from its loving owner. In such cases, rescuing a stray requires more than giving your new found pet a loving home. Hopefully this article will allow you a better understanding of what your legal rights and responsibilities are when you lose or find a pet.

As I have discussed in previous issues, pets are considered personal property, so Oklahoma law treats lost and found pets the same way it treats a lost and found watch or any other personal property. Even more strange, Oklahoma courts rely upon contract law to handle lost and found property. The rationale for the law handling these matters in such a way is so that the Courts can impose and enforce duties owed between the owner and the finder. We see this type of contractual relationship all the time in matters that do not involve lost and found property. For example, a customer gives his clothes to the dry cleaners, which in turn has temporary custody over the clothes. When the customer pays the dry cleaner for services, then the customer can have his property. Make sense? Now let’s apply these same principles to a lost and found pet situation.

Let’s say a pet owner loses their pet and it is found by another person, who in turn now has custody of the pet. Now what? Well according to Oklahoma law the person who found the pet and the original owner owe a duty to each other, just as the owner of the clothes and the dry cleaners owe a duty to each other. But what possible duty does the finder of a pet owe to the owner of a pet and vice-versa?

To answer that question we need to examine Oklahoma’s Contract Statutes. These laws can be found in Oklahoma Statutes, Title 15 Sections 511 through Section 518. Section 511 says that one who finds a lost property does not have to take custody of it but if they do then it is as if they were hired to take care of the property. So, if you choose to keep the pet you found, then the law says you can be held to the same duty as you would be if you were hired by the pet’s owner to take care of it. The significance of this Statute is that it gives the owner and the finder the legal basis to sue each other in Oklahoma Courts if they breach their duties to each other.

Section 512 also says that If the finder of a thing knows or suspects who the owner is, he must, with reasonable diligence, give him notice of the finding; and if he fails to do so, he is liable in damages to the owner, and has no claim to any reward offered by him for the recovery of the thing, or to any compensation for his trouble or expenses. Basically, this means that if you find a pet then you have to make a pretty good effort to find the owner. Examples of efforts to notify the pet’s owner may include, at a minimum, posting found pet signs throughout your neighborhood, calling area vets to announce the find, or posting on Craigslist or other websites for lost pets.

As you can see, another important aspect of Section 512 is that the law allows the finder to be compensated for his/her expenses of taking care of the pet by the owner. If the owner fails to pay for reasonable expenses, or reward, if requested by the finder, then the finder may have grounds to not give the pet back to the owner until such is paid. But remember the finder cannot make such request unless they can prove they made a diligent effort to locate the owner. If the finder cannot prove they made a diligent effort to find the owner, then the owner can sue the finder for damages for unlawfully keeping the pet.

Also, the finder can require the owner to prove ownership. According to Section 513 the finder of a thing may, in good faith, before giving it up, require reasonable proof of ownership from any person claiming it. This could be a problem if your pet has no collar or is not micro-chipped. The owner may also use other evidence to prove the pet is theirs such as photos of the pet, vet records, or even the fact that the pet is excited to see its owner. If you have not had your pet microchipped, hopefully I just convinced you to do so.

Interestingly, Section 514 states that the finder of a thing may exonerate himself from liability at any time, by placing it on storage with any responsible person of good character, at a reasonable expense. Therefore it appears that a finder of a pet can simply board the found pet and not surrender the pet to the owner until the finder is paid for the costs as well as any other expenses entitled under Section 511.

Sections 515 and 516 deals with the finder’s right to sell the found pet should they wish to do so. This law states that the finder of a thing may sell it, if it is a thing which is commonly the subject of sale, when the owner cannot with reasonable diligence be found; or, being found, refuses upon demand to pay the lawful charges of the finder, in the following cases:

  1. When the thing is in danger of perishing, or losing the greater part of its value; or,
  2. When the lawful charges of the finder amount to two-thirds of its value.

Equally under this Section a solid argument can be made that if the law allows the finder to sell the pet, then the same law allows the finder to permanently keep the pet.

The last Statute to be aware of is Section 518. This law states the owner of a thing found may exonerate himself from the claims of the finder by surrendering it to him in satisfaction thereof. In other words, if the owner owes the finder any compensation for taking care of the pet, then the owner can simply give the pet to the finder instead of paying anything.

Another question that will arise is how long does the finder have to worry about the owner claiming his pet or other property? Or said another way, how long does the owner have to sue the finder? The answer for this can be found in Oklahoma Statute, title 12 Section 95 that says that a person has two (2) years to bring their action against another for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property, including actions for the specific recovery of personal property. The clock for the two years would not start ticking until the owner learns that the finder has their pet. On the other hand it appears, since the finder’s duties are strangely based on contract law, then the finder may have up to three (3) years to sue the owner for expenses of taking care of the pet. In any event, lawsuits can be avoided for the owner and finder by doing the right thing. In most cases a thank you and an offer to reimburse expenses usually takes care of matters. In either case, hopefully the owner and the finder will understand each other’s attachment to the pet and do what is in the best interest for the other as well as the pet.

Tulsa Dog Park RULES

posted July 15th, 2009 by
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By Lloyd Benedict

Although Tulsa is very fortunate to now have off-leash parks for our dogs, those who wish to use the parks need to be aware that there are many strict rules. In fact the City of Tulsa has adopted the rules as law and violators of these laws are subject to fines and penalties. This article will examine only a few of those rules, however the full list can be read online at tulsabarkpark.com/park-rules as well as being posted at the parks. The website also has a page devoted to dog park etiquette. One should take time to read the rules and etiquette before using the dog park as this will make the parks’ use more safe and enjoyable.

Recently I was retained by a woman whose dog was attacked by another dog at one of Tulsa’s new dog parks. Apparently my client had just arrived at the dog park for the first time to see what it was all about. While her dog was still on-leash, another dog attacked and injured her dog. The encounter could have been easily avoided had the owners of the attacking dog been watching and had control over their dog. Needless to say, I was able to persuade the attorney for the other dog owner to settle the matter without a lawsuit. The moral of this story is that knowing the rules before using the dog park may save you a headache or worse.

In my reading of the rules I felt the most important rule is number 4 which states “An owner bringing a dog into an off-leash area is liable for and assumes the risk for the dog’s conduct.” This means that if your dog injures another dog or a person at the park, then you are responsible for the damage.

Rule number 8 is the rule I used to argue with the other attorney I mentioned above. Rule 8 says “A dog within an off-leash park area shall be under the owner’s immediate control. All patrons of the Dog Park must carry their leash with them at all times.” This rule would likely have the Court find against negligent dog owners who think they can just let their dogs run about within the park without supervision.
I also feel a few of the rules could be worded a little differently. For example, I love the thought process in rule 9 which states “An owner of a dog creating a disturbance or not being properly controlled can be evicted from an off-leash park area. Upon leaving an off-leash park area, an evicted owner shall also remove his or her dog.” This is what we attorneys refer to as the legal term “Duh.”

One should also be aware that there are a few rules in which, if disobeyed, could make it difficult for you to recover damages if your dog is harmed. Specifically, rules 11, 12, 13 and 14. Rule 11 says “Any dog within an off-leash park area shall not be under four (4) months of age, and shall be currently vaccinated against rabies and have a current City of Tulsa license affixed or attached to the dog’s collar or harness.” Rule 12 holds that “No dog more than six (6) months old which has not been spayed or neutered shall be permitted.” Rule 13 prohibits dogs that are in heat at the park, and rule 14 prohibits dogs that are injured or diseased.

 

Upon my reading rule 19, I realized that owners of large and small dog have different responsibilities. Rule 19 states that “No dog weighing more than 30 pounds shall be permitted within an area designated for small dogs. Owners allowing their small dogs to enter a designated Large Dog Area do so at their own risk and assume responsibility for whatever damage or injury may result.” The rule basically says that the dog owner of a large dog can not place his dog in the small dog area but a small dog owner can place their dog in the large dog area. Again as a lawyer, I can’t help but criticize their wording and rationale in writing this law. So it’s okay to place the Chihuahua in with the Great Dane, but not the Great Dane in with the Chihuahua.

Finally, rule 28 appears to be more like advice than a rule. It states that “Dog behavior can be unpredictable around other dogs and strangers. For the safety of all the dogs at the parks, immediately leash your dog if it exhibits aggressive behavior and leave the dog park area. Protect yourself and your dog. If aggressive behavior is observed, take immediate action: either move your dog to another part of the park, or leave the park.” In any event this is sound advice.
If you find yourself or your dog a victim of someone who ignores the rules then you should immediately contact the Police or Animal Control. However, I do believe that if everyone acts responsibly and follows the rules, your experience at the dog park will be treasured. Lloyd Benedict is a principal in the Benedict Law Office, Tulsa, and is a member of the Tulsa County Bar Association Animal Committee.

Veterinary Malpractice in Oklahoma

posted April 15th, 2009 by
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Tulsa is fortunate enough to have some of the most caring and gifted Veterinarians in Oklahoma.  However, like any other physician, Veterinarians are capable of providing negligent care to their patients.  Although their patients are not human, a serious injury or the loss of life to your pet by substandard or negligent care can be emotionally devastating to the pet owner.  Laws in Oklahoma concerning veterinary malpractice appear to be few and far between and not as progressive as many other States. In fact, Oklahoma does not even have any appellate cases on point to provide guidance and authority to our Courts.

The reason veterinary malpractice cases do not make it to the appellate courts is because thedamages in these cases typically are too small to economically pursue that far. That is to say, in Oklahoma pets are treated merely as household property, thus the value of your damages for the loss of a pet is usually limited to the cost of its replacement, plus the cost of the veterinary bills arising from the negligent care, or additional bills incurred for corrective veterinary care.  Because these damages are typically not extensive, they usually can be recovered in Small Claims Court.

In addition to damages for replacement of your pet and veterinary bills, it may be possible to also recover damages for emotional distress.  Oklahoma law has long recognized damages arising from the negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, to recover this damage the law requires that some sort of physical manifestation accompanies the emotional distress, such as stomach disorders, headaches, nervous disorders, heart palpitations, etc.  Depending on the individual’s circumstances  resulting from the tragic loss of their pet, the damages awarded for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress could be substantial and worthy of pursuing in a Court level higher than Small Claims. 

In addition to legal action, or in the alternative, pet owners may wish to file a complaint with the Oklahoma Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  Information concerning complaints can be obtained by visiting their web site at www.okvetboard.com or by calling (405) 524-9006.  

According to their website, the most frequent types of allegations received by the agency are: substandard care, poor bedside manner, unprofessional conduct, substandard facilities, inadequate record keeping, and negligence in the practice of veterinary medicine.  It is also important to know that unless there is clear and convincing evidence of fraud, the Board does not handle disputes over veterinary fees. 

 After a complaint is received, the Board will then investigate the matter and ask the accused Veterinarian to respond to the allegations. If the Board then determines that the Veterinarian acted negligent or unprofessional according to their standards of practice and the law, then they have the authority to impose sanctions and penalties.  These include fines, suspension or even revocation of the Veterinarian’s license to practice.

The Board can also be a useful tool to obtain much needed information about a Veterinarian that you may be considering.  This service may assist you in being able to avoid a Veterinarian that has a history of substandard care or unprofessionalism.     

In any event, before a person brings legal action or files a complaint, they should first speak with the Veterinarian and see if the matter can be resolved or settled fairly.  It is also important to understand that there are many risks associated with medical care for pets that are beyond any Veterinarian’s control and that there are no guarantees of a successful outcome.  

Overall, most pet owners would probably agree that as a whole, Oklahoma Veterinarians do their best to provide excellent and quality care for their pets.

Lloyd Benedict is a principal in the Benedict Law Office, Tulsa, and is a member of the Tulsa County Bar Association Animal Committee.

Tulsa Laws for Paws

posted January 15th, 2009 by
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Story by Lloyd Benedict

Pet owners should take time to read and understand Tulsa’s many strict Ordinances concerning their furry little friends since many of the laws carry some pretty lofty fines. This article will briefly examine a few of our more common animal laws. Tulsa’s Ordinances can be read in their entirety at www.cityoftulsa.org/ourcity/ordinances.

I have read and dealt with these laws for many years, yet every time I read them, I am again reminded of how many folks are not aware of them.  I am equally amazed to see how many pet owners are aware of these laws but choose to ignore them. For example, it is unlawful in Tulsa to own any dog or cat over 4 months old, unless such dog or cat has a current vaccination against rabies and is licensed.  A license for one year, which requires a one-year rabies vaccination, is $3.00.  Alternatively, Tulsa allows you to obtain a three-year license for $9.00 ($3.00 per year) as long as your pet receives a three-year rabies vaccination.  A violation of this Ordinance could cost you a$75.00 fine per each unlicensed dog or cat and another $75.00 fine for each that is unvaccinated. For further information concerning how to obtain a license for your dog or cat, contact Tulsa Animal Welfare at 669-6299.

Another law most pet owners are familiar with, but many choose to ignore, is Tulsa’s mandatory Leash Law. The law states that dog owners cannot allow any dog to run at large. What many people do not realize is that this law applies to cats too. An exception to this law is that a dog is allowed to be unleashed when it is obediently at heel.  I presume that if your cat can heel, then the same exception would apply. (Now that would be one talented cat.)  In any event, violators of the leash law may find themselves receiving a $200.00 fine and the risk of having their pet impounded.  Having your pet impounded will cost you more substantial fines and fees in order to redeem your pet, especially if he/she is is unlicensed and unvaccinated, and unspayed or unneutered.  Worse yet, impounded dogs and cats are only boarded for three days before they are euthanized if not claimed by the owners within that time. 

Tulsa also doesn’t take kind to dumping pets either.  In fact, in addition to dogs and cats, the law prohibits abandoning “any” domestic animal along any private or public roadway or in any other private or public place. Tulsa defines domestic animals to mean dogs and cats, as well as horses, donkeys, mules, burros, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, rabbits and fowl. 

Another law that Tulsa Police regularly enforce is the “Barking Dog Law” also known as the Animal Nuisance Ordinance. This law prohibits owning or possessing any animal which is a nuisance. A Nuisance is defined as any animal which habitually commits any one or a combination of the following acts:

  • a. Scratches or digs into any flower bed, garden, tilled soil, vines, shrubbery or 
    small plants and in so doing injures the same;
  • Overturns any garbage can or other vessel for waste products or scatters the
    contents of same;
  • Chases any person or domestic animal, or kills any domestic animal;
  • Barks, howls, brays or makes any other loud or offensive noise common to
    its species or peculiar to itself, so as to disturb the inhabitants of the community;
  • Runs at large.

It is probably safe to say that “habitually” means more than once and rather frequent. Violators of this offense could face imprisonment in the City Jail for 30 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

Tulsa law requires every pet owner to attach a current license tag, for the animal, to collars or harnesses worn by their dogs or cats, unless the dog or cat is permanently and uniquely identified with a microchip implant or tattoo. Violators of this offense can be fined $200.00.  

Tulsa pet owners must keep every female dog or cat “in heat” confined in a building, veterinary hospital or boarding kennel in such a manner that another dog or cat cannot come into contact with it except for controlled breeding purposes. Violators of this law can also be fined $200.00.

You may wish to also take note it could cost a hefty $200.00 if you violate Tulsa’s Pooper Scooper law. No animal owner shall allow their animal to defecate (without the owner removing the excreta deposited) on public or private property other than that of the owner.  The law is not specific to dogs and cats, so I presume the fine would be the same regardless whether the perpetrator is your Yorkie or a pet horse, however I am almost certain your neighbor may not measure those results in the same manner.

If you were wondering how many pets you may own in Tulsa, it is unlawful to own, keep or possess in any one household more than a combined total of five dogs and cats over the age of four months; provided that no more than three of such animals shall be dogs over the age of four months. Violating this law can land you 30 days in jail or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

One of the most important laws pet owners need to be aware of is that Tulsa requires every dog and cat over the age of six months to be spayed or neutered, unless the owner has secured a hobbyist exemption permit. The fine for this is also $200.00, which typically exceeds the cost for spaying or neutering at your local vet.  

As you can see, being aware of these offenses can save you substantial penalties or possibly give you the knowledge needed to report irresponsible neighbors. After all, these laws are not just to punish wrongdoers, they were also designed to protect our animals. 

Dog Owner Liability

posted October 15th, 2008 by
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Being a dog owner in Oklahoma requires more than providing tender loving care for your animal.  There are many legal issues to consider with dog ownership. For instance, what if your dog harms someone? Can a person go to jail if their dog attacks someone? Do dog owners have a duty to warn people that their pet is dangerous? Does insurance cover injuries or damages caused by your dog?

Problems may arise if a dog owner falls into a false sense of security by ignoring the fact that his/her dog can potentially cause very serious injuries. This false sense of security may occur because the dog has never shown any unprovoked aggression to family members or strangers.  Although some may believe that only certain dog breeds are more predisposed to cause harm, the reality is that any dog has the potential to do so.  Granted, an attack from a small breed of dog may not be as severe as an attack from a larger breed.  The fact is Oklahoma laws do not discriminate against any particular breed or size, so the likelihood of getting sued is the same regardless of the breed.  Obviously, a more powerful dog may cause greater harm, thus greater consequences await that dog owner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. Because dog attacks are not an uncommon event, all dog owners should be aware of Oklahoma’s State and local laws that concern liability of the dog owner.

One of the most important Oklahoma laws is a statute concerning dog owner liability.  The law allows a dog owner to be sued and held liable to pay all damages caused when their dog, without provocation, bites or injures any person while that person is in or on a place where they have a lawful right to be.  The law further states that postal workers, meter readers and utility workers have a lawful right to be on your property.1

If your dog has previously bitten another person or dog, you should be aware that your responsibilities may be even greater.  Oklahoma law defines a dangerous dog as one that has severely injured a person before, whose owner has already been notified by an animal control authority that the dog is potentially a dangerous dog.  A potentially dangerous dog is defined as one that when unprovoked inflicts bites on a human or other dogs either on public or private property.2

If a person is found to own a dangerous dog, the law requires the dog to be securely confined indoors, or enclosed in a locked pen.3 If you allow a dangerous dog to run loose and it harms a person, you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, or a felony if a death results, and punishable by imprisonment and large fines.4

Another common concern is whether a dog owner is required to post warning signs on the fence.  Although no state statute requires such, Tulsa has an ordinance that requires a dog owner to post a warning sign on a secure enclosure if the dog has been classified as dangerous. In addition, the owner must carry at least $50,000 of liability insurance that covers injuries caused by the dog, and pay a $10.00 fee to register the dog.5

Although a warning sign is not otherwise required, dog owners still have a legal duty to warn visitors to beware they have a dog that could cause harm.  Warning anyone who has a lawful right to enter your property, such as the meter reader, may lessen your liability for them should they become harmed.

Dog owners, whether they are homeowners or renters, should also understand liability insurance issues.  If you already have insurance it is important to find out from your insurance agent whether the policy would cover injuries or damages caused by your dog.   If you do not have coverage,  you may wish to shop around for another insurer.

While considering how much liability insurance you should carry, make sure the amount is adequate to pay for serious injuries. It is not unusual for dog attacks to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages. In 2007 the average cost of a dog bite insurance claim was $24,511. If you are not properly insured to cover those types of damages, you could find yourself filing bankruptcy or having your wages garnished for a very long time.

In my practice as a lawyer I am frequently confronted with many dog bite cases where the dog owners have no liability insurance whatsoever.  Typically the victim is attacked by a dog that either escaped from a poorly maintained fence or the owner allows the dog to run loose.  It is also my experience that people are not injured just from bites alone, as harm can be caused during a person’s attempt to escape an attack, such as breaking a leg.  Injuries caused to a person while escaping expose dog owners to the same liability as bites do.

If you live near such an irresponsible dog owner, take immediate action by asking them to properly secure their dog.  Explain to them that doing so will not only prevent injuries to people, but to their dog as well. If the dog owner is uncooperative then you should either contact your local police or animal control.

By taking time to understand your liability as a dog owner, you will lessen your risks from a potential lawsuit, and hopefully prevent harm to others.

Story by Lloyd Benedict

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