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Dog Bite Law

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By Erica L. Pereira, Esq.
You are all very aware of the recent news story about the unfortunate dog bite incident that occurred in Mansfield MA with a dog named Milo.  Milo was a three year old pointer-hound mix who originally bit a young boy on January 3, 2013, requiring the boy to need approximately 400 stitches.  The Mansfield Board of Selectmen voted to have the dog euthanized but the owners of the dog were allowed to keep the dog at home for a 10 day appeal period.

Unfortunately, last Saturday, during that period where the dog was allowed to go back with his owners, Milo attacked a teenage girl causing injuries requiring her to be transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  Milo was subsequently euthanized on Monday.  This is a sad story for all parties involved, especially the victims and their families. This story left many people questioning why this dog was allowed to remain with his owners after the first bite and why this was allowed to happen again.  People are now asking who should be held responsible for this horrible series of  events.

Under Massachusetts law, owners of a dog who bites another person, causing injuries no matter how severe, are held to a strict liability standard.  This means that the owners of the dog are liable for injuries caused by their dog regardless of whether the owner was negligent.  This law is captured by  M.G.L. c. 140 § 155.  There are two exceptions to this law, 1) if the injured party was committing a trespass, and 2) if the dog was being teased, tormented or abused at the time the injury was sustained.

As a dog owner myself, there is always that fear when you own a dog that something will go wrong and your dog may unfortunately bite someone.  This could happen with any breed.  As a dog owner, please assure that your dogs are kept in a fenced in yard and are always kept on a leash, regardless of how tame and docile you believe your dog to be.  This will go a long way to help prevent horrible and tragic incidents like the one in Mansfield.  After all, even though dogs are members of our family, they are still animals and need to be treated as such.

Different jurisdictions treat dog bite law in different ways.  If you have been injured by a dog bite, be sure and seek medical treatment immediately to assure that you receive the proper immunizations and care.  The attorneys at KECHES LAW GROUP are available to discuss your rights at any time.

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