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The Law Offices of Bailey & Burke

A Proven Full Service Law Firm Since 1971

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Strict dog bite laws in Massachusetts help victims

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2012 | Animal Bites

According to police reports from Worcester County, a 42-year old Leominster man allegedly used his pit bull dog as a weapon during a recent fight with a group of people that took place at a city skate park. Officers were called to the park following a report of a serious dog bite.

The victim claims that he saw the dog through a fence at the park and tried to play with it. He further claimed that the owner came out of his apartment and attempted to punch the man. After failing to make contact with the man, the dog’s owner let the animal of its leash.

The victim received bite wounds to his stomach in the ensuing attack.. The dog, who the reporting officer said seemed scared and confused rather than aggressive, is being quarantined in the owner’s home for 10 days. Meanwhile, the owner has been charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and threatening to commit a crime by further threatening the victim at the scene.

Most states, including Massachusetts, have enacted what are commonly referred to as “dog bite laws.” Dog bite laws impose strict liability on owners whose dogs injure another party. Strict liability means that any owner of a dog who bites and injures another party is “strictly liable” for the injuries that result even if the owner was not at fault.

In states that do not have strict liability laws, dog bite victims must show that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was vicious and could have injured someone. In Massachusetts, the victim only has to show that he was the victim of a dog bite and the dog’s owner failed to properly restrain the animal. If the owner can show that the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing, however, the owner may be able to avoid liability.

In this particular case, it seems as though that the dog’s owner could be subject to civil liability in addition to the pending criminal charges. Unlike a number of animal-bite cases, the dog’s owner knowingly released the animal with the knowledge that it would likely attack the other man who apparently did nothing but try to play with the dog.

Source: Sentinel and Enterprise, “Police: Leominster man used pit bull as a weapon,” Oct. 16, 2012


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