Dog Owner’s Responsibility

The “dog bite statute” of California mainly puts the responsibility on the owners of dogs that injure others.

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.”

For example, if a victim was bitten by a dog owned by another tenant in an apartment complex, generally, the owner, and NOT the apartment complex management, will be held liable for the injuries sustained.

Other than liability for bites, dog owners are also responsible for having their dog vaccinated against rabies.

Health & Saf.C. § 121690(b)(1)

“Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of four months, shall, at intervals of time not more often than once a year, as may be prescribed by the department, procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by, and in a manner prescribed by, the department, unless a licensed veterinarian determines, on an annual basis, that a rabies vaccination would endanger the dog’s life due to disease or other considerations that the veterinarian can verify and document. The responsible city, county, or city and county may specify the means by which the dog owner is required to provide proof of his or her dog’s rabies vaccination, including, but not limited to, by electronic transmission or facsimile.”

If one becomes a victim, he/she should get immediate medical attention, and preserve evidence (e.g. torn clothing), and work with a lawyer who is an expert in animal law and personal injury to know about the rights of the dog-bite victim, and possible damages that may be claimed, if applicable.

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