Can Your Housemates Be Liable for Dog Bites ?

If you’re an animal lover, then you know that dogs are one of the most adorable pets. However, when your canine friend bites a person, you can find yourself in a legal mess. The law stipulates that a dog owner is liable for the injuries the dog causes to other people.

While that may sound obvious, could you be held liable for dog bite even when you don’t own the animal? As shocking as it may seem, the law may find you culpable for dog bites if you share the same compound with the animals. This precedent was set by a New York court that found a dog owner’s housemates guilty for injuries sustained by victims during an attack.

The New York’s Lawsuit

In 2006, three dogs, after being let out, attacked an elderly man and his grandson who were taking a walk in the neighborhood.  While both were fortunate enough to escape, the young boy sustained severe injuries to the ear. In fact, the boy had to undergo plastic surgery to rectify the damage done by the dogs.

Standing in the dock were three people- two housemates and the owner of the dog. While the housemates didn’t own the canines, they would feed, groom and let the dogs out when the owner wasn’t around. On the fateful day when the dogs attacked the boy and his grandfather, the dogs were let out by the housemates without the knowledge of the owner.

The three were sued by the boy’s mother saying that despite knowing that the dogs were dangerous and vicious, they still let them out. The mother argued that they were legally responsible for the attack. The appellate judge concurred with the mother and ruled that the accused had a case to answer. The judge said that despite the housemates not owning the dogs they had control over the animals.

No Safe Harbor

In the lawsuit, the judge went short of defining what the term harboring means in regards to pet keeping. However, the judged said that allowing a dog to stay in your home and getting involved in its care can amount to harboring. Thus, anyone caters for the dog on a regular basis could be held accountable if the animal bites, attack or injures another person.

The judgment may come across as farfetched, but other courts have charged pet sitters for injuries caused by the animals they’ve been entrusted to take care of. Because pet sitters deal with the animals every day, the law assumes that they’re aware of their propensity. In the New York’s lawsuit, one of the housemates confessed he knew that one of the dogs had attacked and killed a pet rabbit belonging to the neighbor.

…Buy accessories for your canine to help calm their behavior

With the right accessories, you can tone down your pet’s aggressiveness. Speaking of which, here a solid resource for some of the best dog care accessories that can help your canine “feel at home” and by extension tame the way he behaves toward strangers. Remember, most dogs develop hostile behavior depending on how good (or bad) you take care of them.