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Special Duties of Animal Owners


While animals are often loving, positive parts of people’s lives, people who own or have control over animals also have a duty to know their pets’ propensities (including temperament, behavior patterns, and likelihood of aggression) and to warn other people if pets are–or may be–dangerous to others. Pet owners must pay attention to their animals’ behavior, and often have a duty to take affirmative steps to prevent (or minimize) the risk their pets may cause to others.

Generally, people must use “ordinary care” to prevent their pets, livestock, and other animals in their care and control from injuring others. This also may include the obligation to take steps to reduce the risk of harm and to prevent third parties from coming into contact with aggressive or dangerous animals.


People who keep wild animals, and dog owners, may also be held strictly liable for bites and other injuries caused by animals in their care. This means the owner (or, in some cases, the person charged with managing or caring for the animal) may be held absolutely liable for any damage or harm the animal causes.

If you own or keep animals, consult an attorney to ensure that you understand your legal duties and responsibilities. Do not wait until an animal threatens or injures someone to ensure you are complying with your legal obligations.

If you are injured by an animal, consult an attorney promptly to ensure that you do not damage (or lose) your legal rights as a result of delay.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses) are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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