Liability with dogs, hypothetical

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TomatoTomahto
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Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:40 am

A friend of ours had his leashed standard poodle attacked recently, high 4 digit vet bill, paid in full by the attacking dog owner's homeowner's policy. It made us think about our possible liability.

We have an electric fence and a well trained and friendly pit bull mix. She's a rescue, so we don't know for sure, but she's tall enough that some Great Dane (or similar) might be in the mix. She weighs around 100#. She runs in the yard, but the electric fence keeps her at least 50' from the road where the occasional dog walker might come by.

We have one ditzy dog walker who brings her large ambiguous breed dog by our property. Lately she's taken to coming on our property, inside the electric fence boundary. I saw her do that, and explained that while our dog is friendly, dogs are dogs, and she should pay attention to both dogs' body language. I'm not sure she "gets it." I'm reluctant to tell her to just stay off our property if I'm not outside with the dog, but maybe I should.

Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.

Full disclosure: six years ago I posted this on BH:
I would not get a Pit Bull, and I would consider it a hostile act if a neighbor of mine got one.
99% of the time when you read about a kid mauled and killed by a dog, it was a pit bull. Beagles don't do that. I can't think of another breed, even aggressive ones, that turns against its owner and family.
All the talk about how it's the training, socialization, that it's not the breed's fault but the owners', etc., NONSENSE.
The breed should be outlawed.
I was talked into fostering our dog, and soon fell in love with her. I also spent hundreds on professional training for her. She's the biggest lap dog I've ever owned. I have changed my mind on pit bulls, but I still think they should throw the book at irresponsible owners.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

smitcat
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by smitcat » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:59 am

"Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable?"

Would you be liable? Very likely yes you would.
Should you be liable - no not in my opinion.
We have seen a few instances of issues with pets and people violating someone's private property and then suing the owner of the property in the last half dozen years. In every case the homeowners paid out mostly through insurance but some personally. We are not too far away over here in LI NY.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:09 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:A friend of ours had his leashed standard poodle attacked recently, high 4 digit vet bill, paid in full by the attacking dog owner's homeowner's policy. It made us think about our possible liability.

We have an electric fence and a well trained and friendly pit bull mix. She's a rescue, so we don't know for sure, but she's tall enough that some Great Dane (or similar) might be in the mix. She weighs around 100#. She runs in the yard, but the electric fence keeps her at least 50' from the road where the occasional dog walker might come by.

We have one ditzy dog walker who brings her large ambiguous breed dog by our property. Lately she's taken to coming on our property, inside the electric fence boundary. I saw her do that, and explained that while our dog is friendly, dogs are dogs, and she should pay attention to both dogs' body language. I'm not sure she "gets it." I'm reluctant to tell her to just stay off our property if I'm not outside with the dog, but maybe I should.

Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.

Full disclosure: six years ago I posted this on BH:
I would not get a Pit Bull, and I would consider it a hostile act if a neighbor of mine got one.
99% of the time when you read about a kid mauled and killed by a dog, it was a pit bull. Beagles don't do that. I can't think of another breed, even aggressive ones, that turns against its owner and family.
All the talk about how it's the training, socialization, that it's not the breed's fault but the owners', etc., NONSENSE.
The breed should be outlawed.
I was talked into fostering our dog, and soon fell in love with her. I also spent hundreds on professional training for her. She's the biggest lap dog I've ever owned. I have changed my mind on pit bulls, but I still think they should throw the book at irresponsible owners.
At a minimum, you should find out IF "your dog" is covered by your homeowner's policy, or if some special rider (due to possible - but it's only possible - breed) is needed, even for an "unknown breed rescue dog".

At least you need to be covered, just in case.

Now... why are you reluctant to tell the ditzy dog walker to STAY OFF YOUR PROPERTY, especially in a case like this, but anytime you wish!?
I'm assuming there is nothing such as some type of public easement there, right?
And you should tell her to stay off your property even if you are there.
Aside from avoiding any type of legal precedent by implicitly agreeing - IANAL so I have NO idea about this - you have the right to enjoy your property without some dog walker, ditzy or not, walking on your property, especially with dogs in tow.

(Sorry... I can't stand having strange dogs poop at the edge of our yard. Or in the middle. It's very rare here in our new neighborhood, fortunately.)

But first, do CYA please. Probably a good idea with any dog, but most are usually (is this the case? we've only had cats recently) included.
At the least, make sure that your dog is not "disallowed" by your policy.

RM
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BarryB
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by BarryB » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:12 am

I live in NJ. Have my homeowner's policy with NJ Manufacturer's. Just received my policy renewal questionnaire and as far as I remember this is the first time the questionnaire specifically asked if I owned any dog breeds on a list they provided.

Owned a large mix breed a number of years ago (not a pitbull but often mistaken for one by the ill informed). Neighbors paid dog walker brought her tiny dog onto my property. Dog was on my property, defecating against my back yard fence - my dog bit her through the fence and did some severe damage.

I and the dog walker were held responsible for the damages - NJM covered my share.

atomicrc11
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by atomicrc11 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:12 am

You will be held liable in NJ according to statute 4:19-16. Therefore, you should post no trespassing signs and specifically state to the other dog owner that he/she is not allowed on the property. This should give you some protection as the below statue states; the owner of the dog is liable for all damages while in a public space or on your property with explicit or implied consent. You are currently giving implied consent.

It seems you might have a defense if you had no trespassing signs. Since it doesn't sound like your dog is dangerous, then you do not currently have to post dangerous dog signs or register with your local municipality as per NJ statute, but you would have to if our dog bites anyone.

Edit to address previous post: And in the above case, since the person was outside the fence in a presumably public area or because there was a lack of no trespassing signs, both parties seems to be held accountable.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4:19-16. Liability of owner regardless of viciousness of dog

The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.

For the purpose of this section, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.

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mcfroggin
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mcfroggin » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:20 am

If after a warning the idiot were to bring a dog on my property again, I would call the police and file a trespassing report. This brings proof of the warning.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Swansea » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:21 am

I was walking my dog down the sidewalk. There were two dogs in a front yard, so I crossed the street. The dogs' owner came out, said not to worry, she has an electric fence.
One of the dogs charged through the fence, made it across the street heading for my dog, then decided to go back home as it was at a significant size disadvantage.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by djpeteski » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:22 am

I would consider myself liable, and warn the woman to stay off the property.

People can sue for anything and we are deep in an age where personal responsibility is considered very flexible. Additionally you have a pit bull of "questionable breading". In the court of public opinion, it may be that this fierce animal was bread and trained for one purpose: kill other animals; truth not withstanding.

An umbrella policy is a really good deal.

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dwickenh
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by dwickenh » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:26 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:A friend of ours had his leashed standard poodle attacked recently, high 4 digit vet bill, paid in full by the attacking dog owner's homeowner's policy. It made us think about our possible liability.

We have an electric fence and a well trained and friendly pit bull mix. She's a rescue, so we don't know for sure, but she's tall enough that some Great Dane (or similar) might be in the mix. She weighs around 100#. She runs in the yard, but the electric fence keeps her at least 50' from the road where the occasional dog walker might come by.

We have one ditzy dog walker who brings her large ambiguous breed dog by our property. Lately she's taken to coming on our property, inside the electric fence boundary. I saw her do that, and explained that while our dog is friendly, dogs are dogs, and she should pay attention to both dogs' body language. I'm not sure she "gets it." I'm reluctant to tell her to just stay off our property if I'm not outside with the dog, but maybe I should.

Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.

Full disclosure: six years ago I posted this on BH:
I would not get a Pit Bull, and I would consider it a hostile act if a neighbor of mine got one.
99% of the time when you read about a kid mauled and killed by a dog, it was a pit bull. Beagles don't do that. I can't think of another breed, even aggressive ones, that turns against its owner and family.
All the talk about how it's the training, socialization, that it's not the breed's fault but the owners', etc., NONSENSE.
The breed should be outlawed.
I was talked into fostering our dog, and soon fell in love with her. I also spent hundreds on professional training for her. She's the biggest lap dog I've ever owned. I have changed my mind on pit bulls, but I still think they should throw the book at irresponsible owners.
I guess I should foster one also, as I still would agree with your original post from 6 years ago.

I am sure your Pit Bull is the exception.

I would not own one due to the liability and insurance rates.

Dan
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:31 am

djpeteski wrote:I would consider myself liable, and warn the woman to stay off the property.

People can sue for anything and we are deep in an age where personal responsibility is considered very flexible. Additionally you have a pit bull of "questionable breading". In the court of public opinion, it may be that this fierce animal was bread and trained for one purpose: kill other animals; truth not withstanding.

An umbrella policy is a really good deal.
We have a $5M umbrella policy with Chubb. Re public opinion: my mailman, UPS, FedEx, landscaper, pooper scooper, and various other delivery people all love my dog, so I'd try to get a jury of my peers :D
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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JMacDonald
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by JMacDonald » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:32 am

I would build a real fence to keep you dog in. That will be cheaper than having to pay for a lawsuit. Pit Bulls are just too unpredictable.
Best Wishes, | Joe

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:34 am

dwickenh wrote:I guess I should foster one also, as I still would agree with your original post from 6 years ago.

I am sure your Pit Bull is the exception.

I would not own one due to the liability and insurance rates.

Dan
I can't speak to the liability and insurance. I also won't try to convince you that a pit is what you want, but I can assure you that rescue dogs "know" what you've done for them. Rescue another breed if you feel more comfortable with that.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:38 am

Good gosh. "No Trespassing" signs and telling her to stay off my property. I guess I will talk to her, but I can't quite get to the signage.

Fwiw, she might be ditzy, but she cleans up after her dog, which is better than most, and I will feel like a heel. I'll just tell her I feel uncomfortable knowing that a fight would be difficult for her to break up.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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dwickenh
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by dwickenh » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:38 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
dwickenh wrote:I guess I should foster one also, as I still would agree with your original post from 6 years ago.

I am sure your Pit Bull is the exception.

I would not own one due to the liability and insurance rates.

Dan
I can't speak to the liability and insurance. I also won't try to convince you that a pit is what you want, but I can assure you that rescue dogs "know" what you've done for them. Rescue another breed if you feel more comfortable with that.
Good advice, and thanks for the reply.

Dan
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

mxs
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mxs » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:45 am

First, I appreciate you taking efforts to control and contain your dog. Last fall I went on a walk with my then 3 year old son around my block, and only 6 houses away from mine we came across a dog that wasn't leashed or contained in any way that ran up to my son and I when we were one house up from it. The owner had left the dog on their porch unleashed and the dog saw us and ran over to us. The dog didn't bark or bite, but it did get overly close and I didn't feel comfortable. It may have been a dog that is always friendly, but why let it be free to run away from the house and possibly cause a problem or run into traffic? The owner came out shortly afterward and retrieved the dog. I told them "it is okay it didn't bite or anything". I don't think the owner liked that comment, but that was the truth and something the owner should have been thinking of and concerned with. Believe it or not, another 15 houses down from that house I saw a unleashed and uncontained dog at another house near the back of their driveway by their garage. As soon as I noticed that I picked up my son and walked briskly away. When I looked back at that property from one house beyond it, I saw the dog walk up to the sidewalk.

I am not a huge fan of dogs, but I do like briefly seeing other people's dogs when they are well taken care of and well behaved. Owners have a responsibility and if they don't take care of it, I think they should be held accountable for any damage done.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:55 am

mxs wrote:Last fall I went on a walk with my then 3 year old son around my block, and only 6 houses away from mine we came across a dog that wasn't leashed or contained in any way that ran up to my son and I when we were one house up from it. The owner had left the dog on their porch unleashed and the dog saw us and ran over to us.
I might be mistaken, but I think every residential area (i.e., non-farm or rural) has some kind of leash law. Even a bite from a small dog can give a child a life-long fear of dogs, and the damage that large dogs can do is well-documented.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

mxs
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mxs » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:02 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
mxs wrote:Last fall I went on a walk with my then 3 year old son around my block, and only 6 houses away from mine we came across a dog that wasn't leashed or contained in any way that ran up to my son and I when we were one house up from it. The owner had left the dog on their porch unleashed and the dog saw us and ran over to us.
I might be mistaken, but I think every residential area (i.e., non-farm or rural) has some kind of leash law. Even a bite from a small dog can give a child a life-long fear of dogs, and the damage that large dogs can do is well-documented.
I believe you are correct. The first owner corrected the situation. I don't know about the second owner as I didn't stick around to find out. I could have (and maybe should have) reported one or both of the occurrences, but I didn't.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by abner kravitz » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:10 am

I would be more worried about the liability if the dog walker got injured trying to break up a dog fight. The potential for much higher damages is there (not a lawyer). Those breeds have a bad reputation (fairly or not) and that would not help if it ever got to court.

I would pore over my umbrella and homeowner's policies with a fine-tooth comb (if you haven't) and maybe get a professional opinion. I know dog ownership and breed were questions I needed to answer when I got my umbrella.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by N1CKV » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:33 am

Check your homeowner's policy and your umbrella policy.

My homeowner's policy specifically excludes coverage for dogs, however they do offer a rider to "buy back" that coverage (which I have). If you do not have that coverage because you failed to purchase it your umbrella may not provide the coverage you are assuming because they would require underlying coverage.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by MDfive21 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:45 am

OP if you're wondering what breed mix you have, i recommend the wisdom panel. it put a lot of speculation to rest when we adopted a pair of little mutts. i was certain they were swiss mountain dogs mixed with something smaller, but it turns out they were a chow/husky/lab and shetland sheepdog mix. your dog may look like a pit, but could be something else. the dna test will possibly put your mind at ease, or will give you reason to be more careful. either way, you will have a better feel for how to handle other dog owners.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:48 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
djpeteski wrote:I would consider myself liable, and warn the woman to stay off the property.

People can sue for anything and we are deep in an age where personal responsibility is considered very flexible. Additionally you have a pit bull of "questionable breading". In the court of public opinion, it may be that this fierce animal was bread and trained for one purpose: kill other animals; truth not withstanding.

An umbrella policy is a really good deal.
We have a $5M umbrella policy with Chubb. Re public opinion: my mailman, UPS, FedEx, landscaper, pooper scooper, and various other delivery people all love my dog, so I'd try to get a jury of my peers :D
Did you disclose your dog owneership on your policy with Chubb? My umbrella asks that I disclose all dogs and what their breeds are for proper coverage. The last thing you want to have happen is have an incident and then find out you aren't covered because you never disclosed (not your hypothetical in which case you are not found at fault - but what if your dog did suddenly charge through the electric fence? Its been known to happen).

EDIT Add: you should disclose to your home-owners insurance as well. Note just because NJ doesn't "discriminate" doesn't mean that your insurance carriers don't have the right to charge you more for owning a more aggressive breed - but even if it costs your insurance to go up - you would at least have coverage.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by BolderBoy » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:59 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:Full disclosure: six years ago I posted this on BH:
I would not get a Pit Bull, and I would consider it a hostile act if a neighbor of mine got one.
99% of the time when you read about a kid mauled and killed by a dog, it was a pit bull. Beagles don't do that. I can't think of another breed, even aggressive ones, that turns against its owner and family.
All the talk about how it's the training, socialization, that it's not the breed's fault but the owners', etc., NONSENSE.
The breed should be outlawed.
IANAL. Unfortunately if a case against you (and your dog) were worth a lot of money, the above quote by you could be dredged up in an internet search by a clever plaintiff's attorney with no end of grief.

The average $$$ paid out for dog-bite claims has been rising steadily and steeply for years now, with good reason.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by rebellovw » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:06 am

Wonderful and loving dogs. Get yourself a real fence - don't trust the electrical fence as it could easily go down.

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Watty
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Watty » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:17 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:We have an electric fence and a well trained and friendly pit bull mix.
I would never trust an electric fence with a large pit bull mix.

It may be trained to normally stay within the fence but if it gets agitated it can run right through it. That happened with a dog of our neighbors when it decided to go after a UPS truck that was driving by. It got hit by the truck but survived with major injuries and vet bills.

It could have just as easily been going after a kid on bike or someone walking a dog.

If a neighbor of mine was leaving a pit bull mix out like that it would be a major problem.

I justed checked my county's ordinances and it says;

"(b) An invisible fence is not an acceptable means of control for an animal that is classified as vicious, dangerous, potentially dangerous, or is in estrus/heat."

I would suspect that, at least here, if your dog ran through the fence and hurt a kid that your insurance would not cover you since you did not have it properly secured.

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Mrs.Feeley
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Mrs.Feeley » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:20 am

It's important to remember that with dogs, any kind of dog, you're always liable for any damages they are involved in causing, even if it's on your property and it's not the dog's fault. It's also important to remember that you will always be at the mercy of your insurance company, even if any damages are not the fault of you or your dog.

A friend had a mixed-breed rescue, generally very well-mannered, calm, well-trained, looked like a collie-mix. Some neighborhood boy appeared at the door selling something. For whatever reason the dog (a female with a history of abuse) thought the boy was a threat to my friend after she answered the door and tried to send him on his way. The dog bit the boy on the ankle. Not a bad bite. The boy's parents took the boy to the ER. A dog-bite report was filed, as such reports are always filed when one turns up at the ER with an animal bite. The bite report ended up in some big insurance database. And then the parents made a claim against the dog owner's homeowner's insurance. At that point all h** broke loose.

The insurance company paid the claim, then promptly ended the policy. The homeowners were unable to obtain insurance from any other insurance company unless they provided proof that they had put down their dog and were able to provide a death certificate signed by a vet.

I think it's essential that a dog owner do whatever they can to prevent any dog bites or dog fights both on their property and off. I don't think electric fences cut it. A neighbor had an electric fence and a Doberman mix. Neighborhood kids were frequently sneaking into the yard to harass the Doberman. They were also climbing over an 8' wooden fence at one end of the property to get into the yard to harass the dog. Talks to the parents, with the kids, and even calls to the police did no good. Nothing except a really, really good fence, and staying outside whenever the dog was out would have provided an effective solution.

We've volunteered with dog rescues, and concerns about the potential for dog bites, insurance liability and homeowner's insurance are always a concern for volunteers who provide foster homes. I heard one lady joke that she would rather stitch herself up after a dog bite in order to avoid the ER and getting a dog-bite report filed that might wind up with her insurance company. I also know a number of volunteers who've left rescue because of liability worries. I don't mean to alarm you, but it is something to be aware of.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by pintail07 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:38 am

I have a pit lab mix that is a sweetheart. That being said, if another dog goes after him they are going to lose. I would never put him in anything but a fenced in back yard. Even then he is a houdini and gets out.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:49 am

TomatoTomahto wrote: I will feel like a heel. I'll just tell her I feel uncomfortable knowing that a fight would be difficult for her to break up.
Just tell her you're the messenger for your lawyer/insurance agent, who are the "bad guys" in all this. Your hands are tied, and other management-speak.

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G12
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by G12 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:51 am

TomatoTomahto wrote: We have an electric fence and a well trained and friendly pit bull mix. She's a rescue, so we don't know for sure, but she's tall enough that some Great Dane (or similar) might be in the mix. She weighs around 100#. She runs in the yard, but the electric fence keeps her at least 50' from the road where the occasional dog walker might come by.

We have one ditzy dog walker who brings her large ambiguous breed dog by our property. Lately she's taken to coming on our property, inside the electric fence boundary. I saw her do that, and explained that while our dog is friendly, dogs are dogs, and she should pay attention to both dogs' body language. I'm not sure she "gets it." I'm reluctant to tell her to just stay off our property if I'm not outside with the dog, but maybe I should.

Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.

I was talked into fostering our dog, and soon fell in love with her. I also spent hundreds on professional training for her. She's the biggest lap dog I've ever owned. I have changed my mind on pit bulls, but I still think they should throw the book at irresponsible owners.
Since we seem to be in the minority on here I will state I have 2 "Pit" mixes, one 60 lbs who is pure omega and the other is 37 lbs and she does not tolerate dog reactivity towards her and can not distinguish between anxious/vocalizing dogs and aggression. The little one is a very athletic dog, she is part Whippet, and has been through a lot training. They are both excellent with people, the big one gets alongs with just about any dog, the smaller one is very discerning in which dogs she tolerates. Accept it or not, dog owners who have dogs that resemble anything remotely under the "Pit" umbrella are held to higher standard than those with other breeds although temperament testing of the breed should indicate otherwise. We have had 3 rescue Dobes prior to rescuing the Pits at different times, I have learned a lot during the years via training, dog exposure in neighborhoods, cities, trials up to 2k miles from home, vacationing with dogs, etc. We have always disclosed the breeds we own when maintaining liability insurance and provided training certs as requested, yet a CGC cert is not worth much in the grand scheme of things. I would not have any dog "contained" by an electric fence as it is too easy for something to go wrong either by animals/people off the street entering or your dog becoming excited enough to go through the fence boundary lines, and I have no idea how the courts may view them as proper containment or not. Unfortunately, most people handle their dogs about like the way they drive these days, with little to no foresight given to potential hot spots around them and they always seem to revert back to "my dog this, my dog that, etc" although they put themselves in close proximity to your dog, your property or walking through a neighborhood on sidewalks bordering your property. We have a 6' privacy fence which is set 8' back from a sidewalk that runs alongside the street side and still get mindless people holding their dogs outside the fence to further excite the dogs multiple times per day and our dogs are only in the yard a maximum of 15-20% compared to being inside. I would be as concerned some dog crosses the fence boundary and confronts your dog and could injure your dog vs your dog venturing out.

I had to have a strong conversation 3 weeks ago with long time neighbors who live directly across the street when one of their dogs while on lead lunged/attempted to bite either my wife or I at the mailbox for the 4th time in a few months and they seemed incredulous we would tell them to keep their dogs off our property and couldn't begin to comprehend the difference in exhibited dog-on-dog aggression vs dog-on-human agression. They had used a trainer that taught them to bark at their dogs to teach that humans were "pack" leaders, that's the kind of people you likely will be dealing with in the event of an incident. The trials I run my dogs in are stringent in how dogs in fairly close proximity to others are to be handled to/from search or work areas over the course of a day at trials, and even then there will be at least a handful of people who think the protocols aren't applicable to them, but if you run a Pit type dog it will get back to the trial officials in a second and everything that comes with that.

TL;DR, get a substantial fence to better maintain safety for your dog and your family, don't count on poor handlers passing by to make good decisions.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:40 am

TomatoTomahto wrote: I'm reluctant to tell her to just stay off our property if I'm not outside with the dog, but maybe I should.
Yes, that would be a good idea. You don't want anything that might result in liability to happen even if it does not actually result in liability. Sounds like an irresponsible dog walker to bring a dog she has taken responsibility for onto your property with your dog running freely. The friendliest dog can turn aggressive without obvious provocation. People get very defensive about this and think it can't happen with their dog, but it happens regularly.

I would also be uncomfortable letting your dog run freely and unsupervised with just an invisible fence. Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are tough and tenacious dogs and yours might just go through it one day with the right temptation or provocation.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mhalley » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:50 am

Maybe instead of a no trespassing sign, a beware of the dog sign?

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by ddb » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:51 am

I don't really have any advice, but I did have a relevant event occur a few months ago.

I was walking my dog (30-pound mixed poodle breed) through a local neighborhood where I often walk. A casual acquaintance lives in one of the houses, and he was outside when I walked by, so I stopped and we chatted a bit. I could hear his dog barking inside of his wood fenced-in backyard. Without warning, his dog, a 90-ish pound pit bull mixed breed, burst through the fence as if it wasn't even there, literally dislodging two of the nailed-in fence planks, and wrapped his mouth around my dog's midsection. I pulled HARD on my dog's leash to separate them, and the owner managed to grab hold of his dog's collar, and his dog would not relent from posturing toward my dog until I started walking away and we were out of sight. My dog required some fairly extensive wound care, but fortunately healed fully (physically). I feel very confident in saying that my dog now has a high level of anxiety around any other larger dogs we come across. So that sucks.

My acquaintance, who I respect very much and would unequivocally place in the category of responsible dog owners, and who up until that point considered his dog a softy/lap-dog, made the decision to put the dog down, to the understandable dismay of his two young children who attend school with my children. So that sucked a lot, too.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:54 am

ResearchMed wrote:At a minimum, you should find out IF "your dog" is covered by your homeowner's policy, or if some special rider (due to possible - but it's only possible - breed) is needed, even for an "unknown breed rescue dog".

At least you need to be covered, just in case.

Now... why are you reluctant to tell the ditzy dog walker to STAY OFF YOUR PROPERTY, especially in a case like this, but anytime you wish!?
I'm assuming there is nothing such as some type of public easement there, right?
And you should tell her to stay off your property even if you are there.
Aside from avoiding any type of legal precedent by implicitly agreeing - IANAL so I have NO idea about this - you have the right to enjoy your property without some dog walker, ditzy or not, walking on your property, especially with dogs in tow.

(Sorry... I can't stand having strange dogs poop at the edge of our yard. Or in the middle. It's very rare here in our new neighborhood, fortunately.)

But first, do CYA please. Probably a good idea with any dog, but most are usually (is this the case? we've only had cats recently) included.
At the least, make sure that your dog is not "disallowed" by your policy.
I will have to look at the policy. I don't know if we had any pets when we first signed up with them, and I've never been asked when renewing, but there might be something that makes it our responsibility to advise them.

I will have to tell the person not to go on our property (no easements apply) but I've been reluctant to do it. I don't want to be seen as the old man who tells people to get off his lawn :D
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:55 am

SrGrumpy wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote: I will feel like a heel. I'll just tell her I feel uncomfortable knowing that a fight would be difficult for her to break up.
Just tell her you're the messenger for your lawyer/insurance agent, who are the "bad guys" in all this. Your hands are tied, and other management-speak.
That's actually how I'm going to approach it. Good suggestion. Have I outed myself as a coward here on BH? :D
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:56 am

My advice as a vet--if your dog is an unclear mixed breed NEVER admit its half/part pit. Always say its a great dane mix/lab mix/boxer mix/ American bull dog mix (I actually think this is the much more aggressive breed)--anything that can explain the big head odd ear set pattern.

Also if I was writing out breeds that should be banned in the US I would start with the argentian fighting breed--I think some of the pits with really bad stories have had this mixed in and it is truly a dangerous dog (seriously look it up) the Boer-Boel would be next on my list--of dog breeds that truly frighten me (and I have been told I have little fear) this one is super high on my list (I have met exactly one that didn't scare me to death) I have been more afraid of many german shephards then pits but intact males of any large breed are the most potentially dangerous breed. The worse dog I ever put down was a Great Dane (I love this breed this one was an outlier) That said I also knew several of that dogs siblings and while that dog was SUPER bad and came from an awful home his siblings were only better because of the homes they were in so breeding was showing badly in the whole litter for some reason.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:58 am

ddb wrote:My acquaintance, who I respect very much and would unequivocally place in the category of responsible dog owners, and who up until that point considered his dog a softy/lap-dog, made the decision to put the dog down, to the understandable dismay of his two young children who attend school with my children. So that sucked a lot, too.
I can only imagine the pain that the decision caused the dog owner, but IMO it was the right call. Sorry for your dog's pain and anxiety.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by rebellovw » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:58 am

mhalley wrote:Maybe instead of a no trespassing sign, a beware of the dog sign?
Don't put up any beware of dog signs as that implies the dog is something to be worried about. Keep they signs like - stay off property - private property - no tresspassing.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:02 pm

mhalley wrote:Maybe instead of a no trespassing sign, a beware of the dog sign?
No don't do that, NEVER do that!! In many states it assumes a level of responsibility because now you "knew" that your dog was potentially dangerous. If you do do it make it funny--beware of mini Chihuahua kind of sign.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:08 pm

MDfive21 wrote:OP if you're wondering what breed mix you have, i recommend the wisdom panel. it put a lot of speculation to rest when we adopted a pair of little mutts. i was certain they were swiss mountain dogs mixed with something smaller, but it turns out they were a chow/husky/lab and shetland sheepdog mix. your dog may look like a pit, but could be something else. the dna test will possibly put your mind at ease, or will give you reason to be more careful. either way, you will have a better feel for how to handle other dog owners.
Thank you for the recommendation. I just ordered a kit.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:08 pm

JGoneRiding wrote:
mhalley wrote:Maybe instead of a no trespassing sign, a beware of the dog sign?
No don't do that, NEVER do that!! In many states it assumes a level of responsibility because now you "knew" that your dog was potentially dangerous. If you do do it make it funny--beware of mini Chihuahua kind of sign.
And, although she can't read, it would be insulting to the dog :D
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mcluhan » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:11 pm

I used to own a pitbull. I would never own one again in a residential neighborhood. I think the risk of something going wrong and getting sued is just way too great.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:12 pm

JGoneRiding wrote:My advice as a vet--if your dog is an unclear mixed breed NEVER admit its half/part pit. Always say its a great dane mix/lab mix/boxer mix/ American bull dog mix (I actually think this is the much more aggressive breed)--anything that can explain the big head odd ear set pattern.
I have ordered a DNA kit to get a better handle on the ancestry. But, until then, she's a rescue so I don't know.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:19 pm

It's interesting. Many think that I need a physical fence, but then someone mentioned an 8' fence that kids climbed over to harass a dog. I guess it would have to have barbed wire to prevent kids climbing over. The way my house is situated, I'd have to restrict the dog to the back yard if I fenced things in, and the fence would be a PITA for the rabbits, deer, ground hog, etc., that also like to run around our yard. Squirrels and chipmunks can manage, I guess, and I wouldn't mind keeping the fox away (they make a horrible sound).

Fwiw, the dog has respected the electric fence boundaries even when "provoked" by rabbits, the damn ground hog that lives on our property line, squirrels (I swear they know where the fence is, and taunt the dog). She stays in the boundaries even when she's not wearing the collar.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by mouses » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:21 pm

Swansea wrote:I was walking my dog down the sidewalk. There were two dogs in a front yard, so I crossed the street. The dogs' owner came out, said not to worry, she has an electric fence.
One of the dogs charged through the fence, made it across the street heading for my dog, then decided to go back home as it was at a significant size disadvantage.
Electric fences are worth zero. Some prey goes by, the dog runs right through the fence. Someone wants to steal your dog, the dog gets stolen.

I can't imagine why the OP does not tell the trespasser to stay out of his yard. Where I live, you can get the police to issue a no trespassing warning and have it on record for zero cost.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:26 pm

mouses wrote:
Swansea wrote:I was walking my dog down the sidewalk. There were two dogs in a front yard, so I crossed the street. The dogs' owner came out, said not to worry, she has an electric fence.
One of the dogs charged through the fence, made it across the street heading for my dog, then decided to go back home as it was at a significant size disadvantage.
Electric fences are worth zero. Some prey goes by, the dog runs right through the fence. Someone wants to steal your dog, the dog gets stolen.

I can't imagine why the OP does not tell the trespasser to stay out of his yard. Where I live, you can get the police to issue a no trespassing warning and have it on record for zero cost.
Invisible fences might not be foolproof, but other than initial issues with a Beagle, we've had 15 years of keeping our dogs where they belonged. We have LOADS of prey going by, all the time, but the dogs don't cross the line.

I wonder if our dog would know that she was being kidnapped. I have no idea whether she would go willingly with a thief, but there are so many similar dogs that can be gotten at a shelter, easily, that I think the odds are that a thief would go there rather than trying to steal a 100# dog that might not want to leave.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by boglephreak » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:50 pm

Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.
i am not a NJ lawyer, so grain of salt, etc. if someone came on your property and was not an invitee (i.e., invited on to the property), they are trespassing and the rules are different. if the dog attacked someone while trespassing on your property, i do not think you would be liable assuming you took reasonable steps to control your dog. whether an invisible fence is reasonable is debatable. i mean, what if the person is going on your property because they think the dog is loose and are doing a good deed to let you know/prevent it frm running in to the street. ultimately it all comes down to reasonableness (both of you and the person coming on your property).

with respect to insurance, you should contact the insurance company and ask. if they truly cant discriminate then you have nothing to worry about.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 12:59 pm

boglephreak wrote:
Hypothetical: say she or some other dog owner came on our property and their dog was injured. Our dog is unleashed, but "controlled" by the invisible fence. Are we liable? Do I need to tell our insurance company that we have a dog with some unknown amount of pit in her? Afaik, NJ does not allow discrimination against specific breeds.
i am not a NJ lawyer, so grain of salt, etc. if someone came on your property and was not an invitee (i.e., invited on to the property), they are trespassing and the rules are different. if the dog attacked someone while trespassing on your property, i do not think you would be liable assuming you took reasonable steps to control your dog. whether an invisible fence is reasonable is debatable. i mean, what if the person is going on your property because they think the dog is loose and are doing a good deed to let you know/prevent it frm running in to the street. ultimately it all comes down to reasonableness (both of you and the person coming on your property).

with respect to insurance, you should contact the insurance company and ask. if they truly cant discriminate then you have nothing to worry about.
Reasonableness would probably lead one to leave my dog alone, being 50' from the private road cul-de-sac, but IANAL either, and I guess they could say that they were protecting my dog :D

Re the insurance: my understanding is that they can't discriminate on the basis of the breed alone, but I guess they could have tiered premiums based on weight. I will get the results of the DNA test and contact them after that. I would not be surprised if a good percentage of her is Great Dane.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Index Fan » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:00 pm

I'm a big animal lover and would urge you to be a responsible dog owner. There are too many who are irresponsible- I see this almost every day.

I get along with virtually any animal and enjoy petting dogs cats etc. but have been confronted a few times by snarling dogs whose owners couldn't be bothered to put them on a leash in public areas. I was almost bitten by one- I felt the muzzle on my calf as the dog barked up a storm and the owner screamed impotently at it to stop. I now carry pepper spray to deter such dogs who through the actions of their owners are a potential menace.

Especially if you have a rescue dog. You have no idea of the background of such dogs. I was once confronted by a large dog whose owner said 'it doesn't like your backpack'. Sure enough, I put the pack down, and it stopped barking. Otherwise this was a fine dog according to its owner.

Get an actual fence and make sure your dog is secure. Be responsible. It's a lot less risky financially and otherwise.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by sevenseas » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:02 pm

I'm a vet and also own a pitbull mix. You've mentioned that your dog is people friendly, which is the norm with this breed. What is her attitude towards other dogs? Pitties of course have a strong tendency towards dog aggression due to their breeding. I would be extra cautious if she has ever shown dog aggression in the past, as this might increase the likelihood of a fight with another dog passing or trespassing on your property in the future.

Also as an aside, my understanding of the Wisdom panel and other canine DNA tests is that they are not considered 100% accurate, so I am not sure if any results would hold up legally or be accepted for insurance purposes, etc.

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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by TomatoTomahto » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:16 pm

sevenseas wrote:I'm a vet and also own a pitbull mix. You've mentioned that your dog is people friendly, which is the norm with this breed. What is her attitude towards other dogs? Pitties of course have a strong tendency towards dog aggression due to their breeding. I would be extra cautious if she has ever shown dog aggression in the past, as this might increase the likelihood of a fight with another dog passing or trespassing on your property in the future.

Also as an aside, my understanding of the Wisdom panel and other canine DNA tests is that they are not considered 100% accurate, so I am not sure if any results would hold up legally or be accepted for insurance purposes, etc.
She puts up with attitude from our 7# Yorkie without being aggressive herself. The two of them often sleep in her bed. The three dogs across the street bark at her often, and she does the dog equivalent of rolling her eyes. She's a pretty mellow dog, spayed (obviously), and at 3 years of age, is losing the puppy energy. At the vet's waiting room, she always behaves even when other dogs puff up, and if I tell her to sit and down, she does.

I had heard that those DNA panels were imperfect, but they will be better than nothing. I have also heard that they've improved over time, with a more extensive database.
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Re: Liability with dogs, hypothetical

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:21 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote: Invisible fences might not be foolproof, but other than initial issues with a Beagle, we've had 15 years of keeping our dogs where they belonged. We have LOADS of prey going by, all the time, but the dogs don't cross the line.
Yeah, that's all great until your dog crosses the line. It happens. Past behavior is no guarantee. Those dogs that kill babies were always sweet and trustworthy right up until they went bad and they are always sweet if no longer trustworthy afterwards. Dogs are dogs. Be responsible to your dog as well as to other dogs and animals and other people.

At a minimum, let your insurance agent know that you have a pit bull mix restrained only by an invisible fence.

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