Your Guide To Doctors, Health Information, and Better Health!
Your Health Magazine Logo
The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Gary Alexander, Senior Attorney
Avoid Liability For Your Pet
Alexander & Cleaver, PA

Avoid Liability For Your Pet

A pet can be mans best friend, but a pet could turn into an owners worst nightmare if it injures or kills another person. An owner can be held liable for the actions of his or her pet or can be subject to criminal charges. In Maryland, an owner of a domestic animal is not liable for injuries resulting from the animals acts unless the owner knew, or should have known, that the animal had a propensity to do that particular act. For example, courts have held owners responsible when the animal has a history of attacking people or when the animal has a pattern of escaping from a fenced area and hurting people.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals also held that an owner may be liable for an animals action, even if the owner was not aware of the animals propensity, if the owner failed to exercise reasonable care or to prevent harm caused by the animal. If an owner does not take reasonable precautions to take care of his or her pet and protect others from injuries, the owner could be held liable for the pets actions.
Pet owners should also investigate if there are any local ordinances that may require the owner to take special precautions. For example, leash laws requiring pets to be on leashes in public places are fairly common. Other ordinances define certain pets, such as pit bulls, as inherently vicious, and this will subject these pets to even more regulation.
Some tips for pet owners on how to avoid liability for their pets include
Keep pets in a secured area.
Keep pets on a leash when in public.
Post warning signs that a pet is on the property.
Train your pet or enroll your pet in obedience classes.
Educate children who may handle the pet on safe pet practices.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice changes in your pets behavior.
Carefully choosing a pet can also help reduce your potential liability. Some questions you should consider when selecting a pet may include
Does the animal have aggressive tendencies?
Is the animal bothered by children?
Does the animal have difficulty socializing with people or other animals?
Are there specific regulations governing this type of animal?
Will it be difficult to provide the animal with a safe and pet friendly secured area?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this animal might not be the pet for you and may increase your potential liability.
In addition a pet owner should consult with their insurance agent to determine if insurance is available or appropriate which would provide coverage for injuries resulting from actions of their pet. Following these tips may reduce your potential civil or criminal liability. If you have any questions regarding you potential liability and your pet, contact an attorney.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130