Dog Owner Liability in Missouri
St. Louis Dog Bite Attorneys Explain Dog Owner Liability Law
Owning a dog can be a wonderful experience – after all, they are man’s best friend. But when a dog attacks or bites a person, the dog owner can be held responsible for the injuries and damages that have occurred. A veteran St. Louis injury lawyer can help you navigate through the legal process after you have been bitten by a dog.
If you have suffered from a dog bite, you know firsthand how traumatic it can be. Dog bites can easily become infected and can cause years of painful skin grafts, rehabilitation and even surgeries. Financial compensation may be needed to pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
After a dog bite, who is to blame?
The answer may very well be the dog owner. A dog’s owner is defined as any person harboring or keeping a dog. Giving a dog food, shelter and lodging for an extended period of time can classify someone as the dog’s owner, regardless of their relationship to the animal. Proving who the owner or owners may be is essential to filing a Missouri dog bite lawsuit and receiving financial compensation.
While we all have to use prudence and caution when interacting with animals, if a dog owner knew that his dog was dangerous or had a history of violence, he is liable for your injuries. In Missouri, even if a dog does not have a history of violence or aggression, the dog owner is still liable for any injuries or damages that resulted from their dog’s behavior. In addition, certain breeds of dog are more disposed to violence and should not be allowed to roam freely where they can endanger the general public.
Advice for Dog Owners from a St Louis Injury Attorney
Dog Owner Advice
In Missouri, the owner of a dog may be held legally responsible if the dog bites another person. Dogs with poor socialization, a past history of aggression are also more likely to bite family members, especially young children who may not understand how to read a dog’s warning signals or how to play gently.
Choosing a New Dog
If you have a dog or are planning to adopt one, keep the following safety tips in mind. Following these guidelines can make a new dog’s transition into your home much easier. It can also increase the security and comfort an existing pet feels, making your dog more comfortable as a member of your family.
- Talk to your vet or a reputable breeder about what breeds would be best for your particular household. Do you have small children? Is the family home most of the day, or will the dog spend regular amounts of time alone? Do you have a place for a high-energy dog to exercise regularly, or do you need a dog who is more comfortable spending quiet time indoors? These and other considerations will help you pick the best breeds for your family, which will help you pick the right dog from a breeder or shelter.
- Have all your family members meet the dog before bringing it into the household. Include any other dogs in the meet-and-greet. Watch both animals and people closely for signs of apprehension or fear. If children are afraid of the dog, wait before adopting one. If the dog is afraid of or aggressive toward a family member, choose another dog.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering tend to curb aggression in both male and female dogs. They also promote health and ensure you won’t be surprised by a litter of puppies.
- Train your dog. Both newly-adopted dogs and established dogs can benefit from training and socialization, especially when they are young. Praise dogs for submissive behaviors, like lying belly-up or relinquishing food and toys without growling, and avoid play-fighting with them, which teaches that aggression toward humans is okay.
- Seek professional assistance from a veterinarian or dog behavior specialist if your dog suddenly develops unusual aggressive or fearful behavior. These may be the sign of a medical condition or other serious problem.
Proper Handling in Public
When you’re walking your dog or playing with your dog in a park, you may find that passing people, especially children, are interesting in petting or playing with your dog. You can help protect your four-legged family member with a few simple tips:
- Use a leash. Always keep your dog on a leash, even if your local ordinances don’t require it. A leash helps you prevent your dog from running off, whether to chase a squirrel or to fight with another dog or person.
- Tell approaching people clearly not to pet your dog if your dog is fearful of or aggressive toward strangers. While it is best never to approach a strange dog without the owner’s explicit permission, many people, especially excitable children, forget this rule.
- Teach your own children and family members to ask before petting a strange dog. Then, they should crouch down close to the dog’s eye level and offer their hand for a sniff. If the dog is friendly, it will usually indicate it wants petting or further interaction.
Dedicated to Pursuing Justice for Dog Bite Victims
Dog bites can cause serious injury, and if you own a dog, a bite incident can put your dog’s very life at risk. Taking time to choose the dog that’s right for your situation and to give your dog training in socialization and other skills can protect you, your dog, and others.
The experienced Missouri dog bite attorneys at Page Law have helped many injured individuals investigate and resolve their dog bite injury claims. Call us today for a free consultation at (314) 322-8515.