This post was reviewed by Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq., an attorney licensed in New York and New Jersey. He is owner and legal content writer for a law practice marketing firm and a realty group focusing on new construction builds in upstate New York, where he lives with his lovely wife and his counselor-at-bark Flora, a mixed breed rescue.
Having a veterinarian dog bite: am I liable? In most cases, liability lies to the ones with negligence in their actions. In cases of a veterinarian dog bite, the keeper is liable if there is negligence on his part. Negligence depends on the level of neglect, but all liability is for the keeper to have.
Getting bitten by anything can happen to anyone. This accident is real, especially when it comes to animals that you take care of. You may be travelling, hiking, camping, and you’ve come across a wild animal that may bite you. Various animals in the wild may inflict a bite on you.
The biting could cause many results, especially Rabies. Rabies is a viral disease in which mammals transfers this to human through their saliva. Stray animals like dogs, raccoons, skunks, or rats are most likely to transmit this type of disease to anyone.
But let’s focus on the animals that could bite you in the comforts of your home. Especially your pet dogs. Have you ever got bitten by your pet dog before? If not, then you are lucky. If you have, did you go to your vet? But let’s first discuss why animals bite?
Why Animals Bite?
Have you ever wondered why animals bite? It is whether you are playing with them and have an accidental bite. There could be many reasons, so which one should you avoid?
Here are several factors that make an animal bite:
#1. Feeling territorial
Animals that have territorial disputes tend to have a grumpy mood. This factor sometimes leads to fights and biting. A human who has come across a territory on an animal instinct tells them to protect their place. So sometimes, when you go into the wild, these animals tend to attack you having you as their enemy in mind.
This thing doesn’t only happen in the wild. It may also occur in the comforts of your home. Though this may not occur to the owners, it may happen to your visitors. Imagine some stranger going inside your house. You would want to protect your place, of course.
What almost everyone does when they feel threatened or abused is to fight back. This action sometimes happens when you hold a stick or rocks against a dog. Usually, kids in your neighborhood tend to get dog bites because of this reason. Some children tend to threatened dogs inside their fences and laugh at the barking.
An animal being threatened or acting scared can lead to biting. This situation is common, especially when you are a pet owner. Having these injuries is every day because you are the one taking care of your pets.
A sick animal has tendencies to bite. It is the same with dogs. They, too, sometimes bite when they feel unwell. They feel grumpy enough to chew if you annoy them.
The best way to face this problem is to seek medical attention from your veterinarians. That way, you will know what caused and what to do with your sick pet.
#4. Protection/ defense
Animals have the instinct of fighting back when they are threatened, as aforementioned above. Sometimes they want to protect either themselves or their young ones from harm. It is common for all kinds of animals to protect their young ones.
Before you approach the animal, be sure if they are alone or have younger ones hiding. This aggressiveness is sure fascinating since you will see some animals’ motherly love for their little ones.
But be sure to move gently on approaching the animals in these circumstances.
An Incident with Viterinarian Dog Bite
As the one responsible for keeping and grooming pets, you should carefully observe the actions that may lead you to a lawsuit and make you file a lawsuit against the owners, just like what happened in the case of Cheryl Armstrong v. Milwaukee Mutual Insurance Company.
What happened was John and Mack, the dog owners, went on a vacation and left their Siberian Husky to Mandy like they always do. Well, the dog is supposed to be taken care of and boarded at Thislerose for a paid service.
Armstrong, a keeper in Thislerose Kennels, doing the same routine in letting the dogs out, changing the water, and cleaning the cages also making sure to put back the dogs to their cells afterward is doing her regular job.
After two days of Mack’s’ dog being in the keeper’s hands, the incident happened. As Armstrong was doing his usual job of maintaining the dogs’ cages clean, he had trouble taking the Husky back inside.
This incident resulted in a bite. It was not a severe one, but it became infected, according to Armstrong. The infection needed several surgeries and hospitalization. Then Armstrong, the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against the dog owners and their insurance to compensate for the damages their dog made.
In my own opinion, the owners did not neglect their responsibilities with the dog though the keeper should be the one careful. Doing a keeper as a job should be kept professional. There are instances that, as a keeper of dogs, you can’t tell when you will get bitten despite the dogs’ docile nature.
Luckily, the court agreed. Even though a lower court awarded damages to the plaintiff-keeper, an appellate court reversed and found that a keeper cannot pin liability on a dog owner due to strict liability statutes. While the court indicated that there could be a negligence cause of action, there was no evidence that the dog owners were negligent in the upkeep, training, or handling of their dog. Thus, the appellate court—which was affirmed by the highest court in the state—did not allow the keeper to recover any money as it is the keeper’s responsibility to take care of the dog.
It is best for the keeper to ensure his/her safety to have a more professional job. As a keeper, one should have protective gear in handling dogs. So why didn’t she used one in taking the dogs back? As a keeper, what are your responsibilities?
Responsibilities Of A Keeper
A keeper should provide food and water to the pet. Without their owners, a keeper must be on time in maintaining the regular diets of the pet they are taking care of.
The owners may provide a particular food for their pets, so the keeper should follow them and feed them only. Pets should avoid unnecessary foods.
Wait! You still have a lot of responsibilities as a keeper, such as the following:
Keepers are also responsible for providing the grooming the pet has daily. Grooming, such as brushing the teeth, combing the fur, taking a bath, and cleaning the ears, are a few grooming examples. Petting is also needed as the pets love attention. Do not hesitate to give them a few pats on the head sometimes.
While the owners are away, the pet must be feeling lonesome. So to avoid loneliness, a keeper should provide entertainment for the pet. Not the acting and another sort of entertainment. A walk will do. Getting holed up inside the house is bore some, so a keeper should go for a walk with the pet.
Cleanliness is next to orderliness. A keeper should maintain the pet or the cages clean. Sanitation is necessary, and cleaning the cages regularly if applicable. Collecting the poop of the pet is also required. Maintaining the cleanliness in the owner’s house and the pet’s place is one of the keeper’s responsibilities.
#4. Give medications
Some pets require medical attention. It is to maintain their healthy body. The owner may leave you some instructions about their pet’s medication, so stay alert for the dosage. The keeper is also responsible for notifying the owners if their pet needs immediate medical attention.
Responsibilities Of A Pet Owner
Just like the keeper, pet owners have responsibilities too. These responsibilities ensure the pet’s welfare. So what are these responsibilities that we are talking about:
A pet owner should be committed to ownership. One should never be impulsive with selecting a pet. A pet owner should be committed to the life and relationship with their pets and provide the necessary exercise and mental stimulation your pet needs.
A pet owner should not hesitate to invest in things that could significantly improve the pet’s health and lifestyle. One should recognize that having a pet will require you to spend some time as well as money.
It is to ensure your pet receives enough nutrition, medical and preventive health care. The same goes for illness and injuries your pet may have. Providing the budget for possible emergencies should also be prepared.
Cleaning up after your pet’s mess is a responsibility of a pet owner. Obeying some ordinances implemented in your area should also be done. Some of these include leash requirements, licenses, and noise control.
Also, do not allow your pet to be stray. This carelessness may cause you more damages than you already are spending too.
Some states require you to give identity to your pet. A tag or a pet registration could be required. Obey on these ordinances to avoid getting lawsuits in potential circumstances that may arise in the future.
Overpopulation can be a hassle not only to the pet owners but for the community as well. To avoid this, you can either spay or neuter your pet. Containment and control could also be an option. Just make sure to be responsible enough in breeding your pets in which you can sustain.
Prevention is better than cure. In any circumstances, you must be prepared for anything. That includes preparedness for disasters. A pet owner should have an evacuation plan in mind for future situations. An evacuation kit is a good idea.
Also, make some alternate arrangements for more extended care for your pet. If you are already old or are getting older, you could make specific arrangements like who will take care of your pet or find a keeper to do so. Make decisions with your pet’s quality of life in mind when having to go to the veterinarian.
Negligence with the following responsibilities will cost you more than you think. When keepers have this type of duty, and the owner has to.
How To Prevent Animal/Dog Bites
There are many ways to prevent your pet from biting either you or someone else. Please take note of the following and always remember these things that we are about to tell you how to avoid getting bitten by an animal.
#1. Never handle, pet or feed unknown animals
Unfamiliarity with the animals could lead to biting, especially when you are new to them. Their instinct tells them to protect themselves, so they tend to bite. In these cases, it is best not to feed, pet, or handle animals you have encountered for the first time.
#2. Vaccinate your pets
Vaccination doesn’t lessen your pet biting possibilities, but it prevents your pet’s potential from having Rabies. If you have vaccinated your pet, even when they bite you or others, there will be less worry about you getting a disease. Make sure to get your pets vaccinated.
Effects Of Getting Bitten
When are we talking about biting, what comes into your mind? You probably are thinking of Rabies. Yes, Rabies is a disease that is passed from a mammal to a human through bites. As mentioned above, Rabies could come from any animals that bite you. Some of these instances are from the stray ones.
If your dog or cat bites you, you could probably get Rabies. But how would you know if you got one? If the dog bit you, how would you know if you got Rabies or not?
Here are some symptoms you should watch out for:
One of the symptoms of infection is swelling of the wound. The bitten area may be infected if you see it getting projected. It sometimes has a reddish violet and blue color on the outer part. You may also see it getting oily, or some liquid may ooze out. Seek medical attention immediately.
Dog getting weaker
You should not only observe yourself but the dog who bit you also. You may need to get a few anti-Rabies tetanus shots for a week or so. During that time, you should observe the dog if the dog has weaker stamina than before it bit you. Weakness in health may be a sign that the dog has Rabies.
In any of these cases, if a dog bites you, immediately seek help for medical attention before it gets too late. Having bitten by one hasn’t made anyone in fatal condition, but that is because they have made the right decision to seek medication at once. Never hesitate to get a shot. It’s for your right too.
Other Incidents With Keepers
There was this other incident that involves keepers of dogs filing a lawsuit against the owners. Well, what happened was the plaintiff, a veterinary technician, was bitten by the dog in her care and filed a lawsuit against the owners.
The owner left their dog in the care of the plaintiff with the order to spay her dog. At the back of the rooms were cages where the dog was waiting for her turn. The plaintiff went to get the dog from the pen to the operating room. As she was about to lift the dog to the operating table, the dog growled.
Another doctor with the plaintiff told the plaintiff to muzzle the dog for prevention and their protection. As the plaintiff tries to attach the muzzle, the dog bit her finger. The injuries incurred were severe and required surgeries. The plaintiff did receive compensation from the worker’s insurance.
An owner surrenders all responsibilities to the veterinarians when needed while attending to the dog’s care. It is within the veterinarians’ liability on what happens to the pet in their care.
With this case, it is an excellent example to observe safety and precautions when handling an animal. But be sure to wear protective gear first before making a move on the animal. We never know when the animal may act up.
Having the leash still on, the plaintiff should consider that the dog may act up anytime, so she should have worn protective gear to ensure their safety. That way, she should have prevented the bite or lessen the injury she suffered in a way.
But then again, pet owners should also warn the keepers or the veterinarians of their dog’s behaviors and attitudes. As a pet owner, you should know the dangers your pet might give. You should also provide the leash or muzzle when making other people handle your pet.
This next case involves a pet owner and a neighbor. What happened was the plaintiff heard the dog whine over her neighbor’s house. Knowing that the owners are away and went to work, she decided to take the dog outside and chained him there.
Now the dog was outside then she decided to get the dog’s collar off. When she took the collar off, the dog ran towards the door resulting in the plaintiff falling off the floor. This incident resulted in the plaintiff some damage, including a broken hip that required repeated operations to get it back to normal.
The plaintiff was the keeper of the dog at that time. But keepers do not get to decide whether the dog is to be left outside unsupervised. Though the plaintiff claims to be a keeper, there was no such thing as proof of keepership to file a lawsuit and demand compensation.
Another case we have here is about a groomer and the dog owner. The incident happened when the groomer was doing his job on grooming the dog when the dog bit him. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the owners for the damages their dog has made.
Though in Iowa, a law states that a keeper will be primarily liable when the dog is within its care. Because in the first place, it is the responsibility as a keeper to keep both parties safe. One is themselves, and the other is the pet.
It is an absolute responsibility to ensure their safety because it is them who entrusted the pet. Though the plaintiff got compensation from work, he still filed the lawsuit.
In my opinion, it is a keeper’s job to provide what an owner usually does. This is the same when it comes to responsibility. The responsibility is assigned to the keeper when the pet is within their care. It is their job, and they should be prepared for any circumstances that may arise, including injuries.
Laws A Dog Owner Should Know
A responsible dog owner should know the following laws that precede in their area. The owners should not only understand these laws but also abide by them.
On top of the list is the vaccination. As a responsible pet owner, you should have your dog vaccinated. It will not only help you prevent getting infected by Rabies, but it will also serve as protection of those who will get bitten in the future—if there will be any.
#2. Dog licenses and leashes
In almost every city, one should register their dogs. It is to protect both the owners and the dogs themselves. This action also establishes an identity for the dogs.
Dog bites are a strict liability of the owners. It is because its pet is the one that made the injury. The owner is responsible if their pet has bitten regardless of their belief that the pet will not do so. Dog bite laws are only applicable if there was no violence or abuse between the dog and the victim.
A veterinarian dog bite: am I liable? Well in most cases when it comes with keepers versus the dog owner, the liability goes to the keepers. First and foremost it is their job. Second, all responsibilities of the pet owner is shouldered by the keeper once the dog is within their care.
But let’s be reasonable enough to be responsible of the responsibilities that we have. Whether you are a keeper or a pet owner, one should be aware of the dangers their pet may bring to themselves and others. We should always be prepared for anything that may happen when handling other person’s pets.