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Animal bite victims: don't accept blame from pet owners

Dogs typically make wonderful pets, as responsible Worcester residents who grew up with them and who take proper care of them today can attest. Unfortunately, some dog owners do not give these animals the care and attention they need -- elements that are sometimes necessary to keep others in their communities safe from a dog bite attack.

A recent example comes from a neighboring state in which a woman was taking care of her son's pit bull while he was in jail on robbery charges. The mother, however, was unable to control the dog herself. Instead, she had her ex-husband going over to the house to let the dog outside.

One such morning, the dog apparently became aggressive, biting the man on the arm and holding on. The mother of the dog owner attempted to separate the two, including by dousing the dog with water. She says that the incident started when two children passing by began to agitate the dog; at some point during the episode, the dog also bit one of those children on the thigh.

The mother also claimed that the dog was leashed, although a neighbor contradicts this point. On his way to catch a bus, the neighbor says the dog came after him, chasing him onto his porch and biting his arms and chest. He and the boy were both taken to the hospital for their dog bite injuries.

In any animal bite incident, it is unfortunately common for a pet owner to try to pin the blame on the victim of the animal attack. It is vital for victims (particularly the parents of young children) to understand that in Massachusetts, strict liability law means that a pet owner is responsible for any injuries caused by that animal. Owners may try to argue that the victim was tormenting the animal; the burden of proof is on them, in these instances, to prove their allegations.

Liability can be a sensitive component of personal injury law. A legal professional can help a dog bite victim understand how it applies in a particular case.

Source: Syracuse.com, "Pit bull owner's mother says kids provoked Syracuse dog attack that injured 2," Jacob Pucci, July 16, 2014

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