Who Is at Fault in a Dog Attack?

If dogs are allowed to or encourage to attack, the results can be deadly.
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No dog owner wants their dog to attack another pet or person, but hundreds of attacks happen every year despite the best efforts of many pet owners. The severity of dog attacks can vary from a minor bite to a severe injury or even death of the victim. Determining who was at fault for the dog attack is often a necessary part of dealing with the aftermath of an incident.

Dog Attacks and Fault

Every dog attack is an individual situation and fault can lie with any party who is involved in the attack. The unique circumstances that caused the attack play a large part in determining who is actually at fault. Fault must be determined on a case-by-case basis. In an incident where the owners of the dog and the victim cannot agree who is at fault, the determination may be made by authorities such as the police or judge.

The Dog

Several key factors come into play when determining fault for a dog attack. Obviously, the dog who did the attacking must come under scrutiny. The dog's past behavior is often brought up as a way of determining whether the attack could have been anticipated by a reasonable owner. Dogs who have a history of aggressive behavior, have previously attacked other animals or humans or have otherwise been labeled as aggressive need to be cared for differently than dogs who are not considered aggressive.

The Owner

Once the dog's past behavior has been assessed by the authorities in charge of determining fault, the owner's actions in preventing an attack will be brought into consideration. An owner who is found to have been negligent in caring for their dog or protecting the public from their dog may be found at fault for their dog's attack.

The Victim

Sometimes a dog attack victim is found to have caused the attack. Individuals who trespass on private property, intentionally tease or aggravate a dog or behave in a manner that provokes aggressive behavior from a dog may be found at fault. Individuals who fail to take reasonable measures to protect themselves or their animals from a dog attack -- for example, trying to break up a dog fight at a dog park and being bitten in the process -- may also take some of the blame if things turn out badly.