Most of us are aware of the types of dogs considered “dangerous” or “vicious”. They include the larger muscular, beautiful, and yes, sometimes scary looking breeds: Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepard, Doberman Pinscher (we will collectively call these dogs “Brutus”). While you will often hear from owners of these dogs that they are only as aggressive as they are trained to be or that they have been raised like one of the family and would never hurt anyone, you also probably know it does happen. You have seen it on the news. You have probably also seen the social media stories and pictures of Brutus quietly and protectively napping with a toddler in the family. Maybe so, but Brutus is still an animal – a dog, with a powerful jaw and teeth and, like it or not, a dog with a sometimes aggressive nature.
What about the cute little toy poodle with the pink bows in her hair? If you have you ever tried to escape the barking, dare I say yapping jaws of sharp toothed little Fifi chomping at your heels, you know the answer to that question. It can be just as traumatizing and also result in injury if bitten.
But who doesn’t love a good dog that plays, gives tail wags when greeting you at the door and will curl up next to you on the sofa at night? Most Americans do, but the fact remains that dogs can be unpredictable and they will bite people, oftentimes unexpectedly. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites result in medical care. We should therefore be aware that when that happens, there are laws in place to compensate the injured parties.
Kentucky dog bite laws are governed by Kentucky Revised Statutes (Title XXI, Agriculture and Animals: Section 258.235). Under Kentucky law, dog owners are strictly liable for any injury caused by a biting dog. The statute is clear: “Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.” It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself the most responsible of dog owners, you can still be held liable if your dog bites an unsuspecting visitor’s leg or hand. You should also know that if your dog does bite someone and a court rules that your dog is “vicious”, responsibility for future ownership can change drastically, and include strict guidelines for keeping the dog. Under certain circumstances the dog may be destroyed.
Nearly all states have “dog bite laws” in place. Dog bite injuries are a serious matter, not only for the injured party, but the owner of the offending dog as well. So, what is a dog owner to do? First and foremost, make sure you know the laws in your state concerning dog ownership and your responsibility. If you are that person who cannot resist owning the “dangerous dog breed”, the “Brutus” dog, you may want to consider looking into dog liability insurance, which is a special policy to insure yourself
arises where your dog has bitten someone. This type of insurance coverage would allow you to file a claim to cover the cost of the dog bite situation.
Finally as a responsible dog owner, whether the dog is a Brutus or a Fifi, we
ery precaution to make sure our dogs are up-to-date on all vaccinations, properly trained and socialized, under our control, and safely and securely contained whether that be while inside our own homes, in our backyards or in public areas such a sidewalks, parks, or even a veterinarian’s office. Always make sure your dog is on a leash and under your control when out and about in public. Better safe than sorry.