Dogs and other animals can be our friends but sometimes things go terribly wrong. Within the last week there have been at least two dog attack incidents in North Carolina. Unfortunately a 3-year old girl in High Point was mauled and killed by the family dog. And across the state in Pitt County an 11-year old boy was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull when getting off a school bus. The young man was fortunate in that he lived although he did sustain some deep wounds.
In North Carolina (and many other states) dog owners and owners of other animals face liability for injuries if they know or have reason to know their animals are likely to attack or cause serious injury. This concept of foreseeability=liability is typically referred to as the “one free bite rule.” Owners are responsible for their animals and must monitor whether they show signs of aggression or menacing behavior. If this should occur the owner is on notice that the animal has dangerous propensity and the owner must take reasonable and necessary precautions to protect people from injury.
Here are some suggestions for how to be a responsible animal owner:
- Know your pets and their tendencies….what irritates them or provokes them to act or react out of character
- Leash your dogs when walking them
- Make sure all rabies shots and other required vaccinations are up-to-date
- Feed and shelter your animals (tying a dog to an iron stake is clearly not the most humane means of ownership; moreover you could be angering your dog and making him or her more aggressive)
- Be present and proactive when your dog or animal is in the midst of young children…….innocent noises or gestures by a child could cause the animal to react aggressively
I am saddened for the family of the young girl in High Point and I hope the young man in Pitt County heals soon and without any complications. If you have been attacked and injured by an animal you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney about your situation.