Dog Law

Dog Law As one who lives easily without a dog as part of the family, I have noted with wry amusement that when dog owners claim their pet is well-behaved, they mean that it does not act like a dog. To me, this seems a bit unnatural, and, if the newspapers are telling the truth, many dogs find that state unnatural as well. Hence trouble: for dog, owner and third party whether aggressor or victim. This wise and often funny book covers just about any imaginable legal situation involving canines, though you’ll have to fine-tune the information to bring it into line with your local ordinances. There is an especially fine blow-by-blow description of how to take a dog dispute through small-claims court, and win. Another truly excellent legal aid from the Nolo crew.

The very best of [dogs] can, with less effort and in a shorter space of time, make themselves more of a nuisance to the square inch than any other domestic quadruped of which we have any knowledge.

What can a tenant do to assure a skeptical landlord that a dog won’t be a problem? Praise from the obviously prejudiced dog owner is not the best evidence. References from previous landlords or neighbors are great; a brief letter saying what a nice, well-mannered pet the tenant has should go a long way with a prospective landlord.

Dog-Bite Statutes

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have statutes that make dog owners liable if their dogs cause injury. They are called “strict liability” statutes because they impose liability without fault — an injured person does not have to prove that the dog owner did anything wrong.

The theory behind these laws is that anyone who has a dog should be responsible for any damage it causes, period. It doesn’t matter that the owner was careful with the dog, or didn’t know it would hurt anyone, or conscientiously tried to keep it from hurting anyone.

Baldwin, J. “Dog Law.” Whole Earth Review 65 (1989): 102. Academic OneFile. Web. 9 June 2014.

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