Bob and Carol had three children all under the age of five and a pet German Shepherd by the name of Ajax. Bob had a large fenced in lawn where Ajax would spend most of his day outside playing in the yard. Ajax was four and had never attempted to go over the chain link fence in the past. Bob\’s neighbor on the other side of the fence had a seventeen year old boy known as â€œBratty Bill.â€ Bratty Bill decided he was going to see if he could hit Ajax with a rock and commenced throwing stones at the dog. At first the dog retreated, but once he was struck, he made a beeline right over the fence and attacked Bratty Bill. The seventeen year old suffered serious bites on both arms as well as on his torso.
ISSUE: Does Bob and Carol have any liability for the actions of their dog?
ANSWER: While ultimately it would be up to a jury to decide, common sense would indicate that but for the actions of Bratty Bill, he would have never been harmed. Ajax was known as a friendly dog and never attacked anyone in the past. In a sense, Ajax was simply defending himself. Even amongst the parties\’ neighbors, Ajax was far more liked than Bratty Bill.
* Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.