“Dog bite Statute”

The laws of the state of California state that generally, the owner of the dog is responsible for the damages or injury that his/her pet might cause if the attack happens in a public place, regardless of the former viciousness or the owner’s knowledge of his or her pet’s viciousness.

CC § 3342(a)

“The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” (Emphasis given)

However, if the owner relinquishes care, custody or control of the dog to a trained professional, such as a veterinarian, kennel worker, groomer or dog-walker, in exchange for compensation he/she is not liable for the damages or injuries his pet might cause during the time the dog is under the care of the professional.

Priebe v. Nelson (2006)

“Extending the veterinarian’s rule as a bar to personal injury actions by kennel workers who are bitten or injured by a dog while on the job will therefore further serve the policy of encouraging dog owners to avail themselves of the services of licensed commercial dog kennels, without the threat of liability and lawsuits for injuries caused by their dogs’ conduct hanging over their heads, conduct they are in no position to guard against or control once the dog is surrendered to the kennel for boarding. Encouraging the use of secure kennel boarding facilities in turn serves the salutory purpose behind the dog bite statute–that of protecting members of the public from harm or injury by dogs not properly under their owners’ control and which they (the members of the public) themselves are in no position to control.”

If the dog was under the care and supervision of the owner during the attack, then the victim may claim damages from the owner or his/her insurance. If the attack happens while the dog is in the care or control of a professional, the liability could be on the said professional.

To better understand dog bite liabilities and possible recovery for damages, consult with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury.

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