Barking dogs & the law

With the Coronavirus keeping everyone inside these days, one of the more acceptable things to do is go for a walk in the park, or in your neighborhood. Many people are also taking advantage of dog parks. You can social distance, and still let your furry friends get some fresh air.

 However, part of the charm of these parks is also the danger. Many dog parks are leash-optional, meaning that once you are in a specified area with your dog, you may take him off of the leash. This lets your pup run and play with other dogs. But, it also makes it more difficult to establish liability should there be an issue between two dogs.

 If there is a dog fight, establishing which owner was negligent is more difficult in a dog park that is leash-optional. Negligence is considered the lack of ordinary care. So, in a leash-optional park, the dog owner still must do what is reasonable, such as keep his dog on a short leash if the dog is unruly, not socialized, not neutered, or has any known propensity for danger. 

 If you find yourself facing such an owner and its dog, probably the best idea is to take you and your dog out of the park. But, these situations can happen quickly, and many times you won’t have the time to remove yourself and your pup. 

 If the owner of an ill-behaved or scared dog fails to act responsibly and keep it on a leash, and should you or your dog sustain an injury that could have been prevented then you will have a legal case. If you or your pet become the victim, treat it like you would any other accident that may be headed for court. Take pictures, and talk to witnesses. You will also want to file a police report.

 You will be asked to prove that the offending dog owner was unreasonable, and therefore negligent for not having his dog on a leash. 

 If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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