Generally, yes, under California's dog bite statute, dog owners are absolutely responsible for any injuries caused when their dogs bite, even if the dog in question has never been violent before.
While dog bites are truly tragic no matter the victim, they are especially devastating when they involve children. After all, small children typically have little defense when fighting off a dog attack. With summer vacation quickly approaching for San Diego elementary students, parents need to be even more on guard when their children are playing outside, or playing anywhere near a dog for that matter.
A 4 year old boy who sustained severe dog bites has a lot to be thankful for, after a bystander's heroic act of bravery fended off the dog thereby preventing further injury to the boy. The remarkable part of the story is the brave bystander being a tabby cat. The cat, named Tara, was captured on security camera on May 13 when she pounced on a dog that attacked her 4-year-old owner Jeremy Triantafilo. The video, which has garnered 21 million views on YouTube, shows the dog biting and attempting to drag the boy. Within seconds, Tara leapt onto the dog, and in a flurry of hair and nails chased the canine away.
A debate among state lawmakers highlighted some of the key issues in determining who is the responsible party when a dog bites a human. State laws on dog bite liability vary widely across the country, reflecting different viewpoints on the duties of a dog owner. On one side are those who support what is essentially strict liability for dog owners - they must be held responsible no matter the circumstances when their dog bites another person. Strict liability means there is only one question - did the dog bite the human? If the answer is yes the owner is held responsible.
The threat of dog bites is a reality for San Diegans. We are blessed with great weather. A natural accompaniment to the warmer climate is many opportunities for outdoor activity. For dog owners this means taking the dog for a walk. According to San Diego County Animal Control, San Diego's 3.2 million residents share our County with more than 1 million pets and sheltered animals. Given the facts, it's worthwhile to take a moment to reflect on how dog bites occur, how to prevent them, and what to do if a dog does indeed bite.
After his large Akita dog viciously attacked a child in a local Murrieta Lowes earlier this year, Robert Kahn was arrested this month on charges of felony negligence. The young victim-who approached the dog to pet him after being invited by the dog's owner-needed an astonishing 50 stitches to close the gaping facial injury and wounds resulting from the dog bites. The story doesn't stop there; the Murrieta Lowes was well-known for allowing dog owners to let their dogs roam freely around the store, leash or no leash, and had no rules or regulations regarding dogs posted whatsoever.