If you have children or are around children a lot, you may have gotten a dog whose breed is recognized as being “family friendly” and good with kids. Still, dogs of any breed—even seemingly friendly ones—can lash out and bite, as one recent incident shows.
California boy bitten by Labrador retriever
A child, age 8, was bitten by a Labrador retriever at his daycare center, causing him to suffer injuries to his face, arm and chest. The daycare center was run out of the dog owner’s home in Apple Valley, California.
According to the boy’s younger sister who witnessed the attack, the boy was in the front room with other children when the dog began biting the boy, unprovoked.
The children had been attending the daycare center for two months prior to the bite, and believed the dog was familiar with them. Still, the dog lashed out and bit as if the boy was a stranger.
Strict liability for dog bites
As this shows, even “gentle” breeds of dogs carry the risk of biting. For this reason, California law does not specifically name certain breeds that are vicious per se. Any dog in California can be considered vicious, even without the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness or prior acts of viciousness on the dog’s part.
Under California law, if a dog bites someone, causing them damages, and the dog bite victim was lawfully on the property where the bite took place and was not provoking the dog, the dog’s owner may be liable for the damages the victim suffered.
Liability will be imposed, even if the dog never bit someone in the past or even if the owner did not know their dog to behave viciously. California follows strict liability laws with regard to dog bites and does not provide a “one-bite” exception.
No one should assume their dog would never bite someone. After all, dogs are animals and animals can be unpredictable. Dog owners must be held responsible for the actions of their pets, including any animal attacks that cause others to suffer severe injuries and mental distress.