There are not many children who would not want to find a lovable new puppy under the Christmas tree. However, owning a dog is a huge responsibility. For some parents, giving their child a dog is a way of teaching their child responsibility. As a dog owner, your child must feed, bathe, and care for the dog.
In addition, you need to teach your child that a dog owner is also responsible if the animal attacks or bites another person. California law holds a dog owner liable for damages if a dog bites another person.
California Laws Governing Dog Bites
The state has adopted a strict liability for dog bites. Under California Civil Code §3342, a dog owner can be held liable if his dog bites another person on private or public property. There are exceptions to this strict liability standard for trespassers, people who are provoking the animal, and people who are performing a paid service involving the dog.
Strict liability is a strong standard for dog owners because the dog does not need to have a history of violence for the owner to be held liable. Even if the dog has never bitten another person, the owner may be responsible for the damages if the dog bites someone for the first time. In other words, if your dog bites someone but has never shown any signs of being vicious, you might have to pay for that person’s medical care, pain, lost wages, emotional suffering, scars, and permanent disability.
Teaching a Child to Care for a Dog
If you are considering a pet for your child this Christmas, below are a few suggestions for ways you can help teach your child how to care for a new dog:
- Create a checklist for pet-care responsibilities based on your child’s age and abilities. Examples of chores can be walking the dog, feeding, brushing, bathing, and changing the water bowl.
- Enroll your child and the dog in a basic obedience training course.
- Do not base taking care of the dog on punishments or rewards. Taking care of a pet is not dependent on any other activity or behavior.
- Talk to your child about how to handle the dog when it is around other people, especially strangers.
Remember, your child is still learning. You must supervise the care of the dog to ensure that your pet is well-cared for and the dog’s needs are met. While the goal would be to have your child become responsible for the care of the pet, it could take some time before a child is ready to assume that responsibility with close supervision. Until that time, you must be very involved with the pet’s care and training.
California Dog Bite Attorneys
If a dog has injured you or your child, our attorneys can help you seek compensation from the dog’s owner for your damages. To schedule a free consultation with a Sacramento dog bite attorney, call The Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or visit our website. Our law firm serves clients in Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, El Dorado Hills and other communities in the greater Sacramento area.