So it’s COVID and it’s Christmas and you’ve decided to get a dog. While man’s best friend can bring years of love and enjoyment for single older adults and families alike, dogs are highly individualistic, and have certain breed characteristics that make them more or less suitable to a particular home.
Kids and dogs are as Americana as Norman Rockwell. But, unfortunately, they are also victimized by dog bites at an alarming rate. Some 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites result in medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 70 people are bitten by a dog seriously enough each year to require medical attention.
Our personal injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral know dog bite injuries involving children can be particularly serious. Toddlers are most often victimized. Scarring and emotional issues often impact self-confidence and child development. Frequently, a family dog or close friend or family member’s pet is responsible. While these are always emotional cases, it’s important to understand that a homeowner’s insurance policy is typically liable for damages, usually with a limit of $100,000 to $300,000.
Choosing a New Pet
Before the 19th century, breeds of dogs (other than lap dogs) were largely functional. They performed activities such as hunting, tracking, watching, protecting and guarding. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “In the oldest proverbs and phrases dogs are rarely depicted as faithful or as man’s best friend, but as vicious, ravening, or watchful.”
The American Kennel Club offers tips on buying a dog, beginning with a breed selector. Certain breeds are better suited for certain environments. Whether you have previously owned a dog, how much room the dog has to roam, how many hours a week you plan to spend with the dog, as well as whether you have small children, all play into selecting the right dog for you and your family.
Animal rights organizations continue to push for adoption of existing pets, rather than the purchase of dogs at a pet store, which may support puppy mills at the expense of existing neglected or abandoned animals. In certain instances, this may be a great thing for both a family and a pet in need of a home. However, a behavioral analysis must first determine the animal is a suitable match for the intended environment.
Often, the best choice is to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, which may also offer obedience training or obedience-trained dogs.
Homeowner Liability for Florida Dog Bite Claims
Florida Statute 767.07 outlines liability for Florida dog owners. Florida is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. That means a dog owner is held strictly accountable for dog bites, even in cases where the dog has never shown a propensity for biting and where the dog owner had no knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies.
Florida law does not require a victim to prove a dog owner was negligent. Only that the victim was on public property or lawfully on private property at the time of the attack.
Pet owners who are having company for the holidays should always ensure children are properly supervised around pets and that the animal has somewhere safe to go away from the noise and confusion. Never force a pet to socialize.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.