Pet owners strictly liable in Massachusetts with some exceptions

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2014 | Animal Bites

In general, pet owners are strictly liable in Massachusetts for harm their pets cause with some exceptions. A dog was recently saved from euthanization in a neighboring Massachusetts’ community just west of Worcester. Authorities deemed the dog dangerous. Greater than 100 people from the community showed support for the dog who belongs to a local restaurant owner. According to police, the dog has bitten twelve people. According to supporters for the dog, individuals who have been bitten by the dog have been trespassing at the time the dog bite occurred.

The restaurant owner was required to build an enclosure for the dog within two weeks. Community members hope to have the enclosure built within two days. Massachusetts is a strict liability state concerning dog bites and animal attacks. Because of this, when a dog bites someone, a pet owner will be liable for the harm and damages the victim suffers.

If the victim, however, was trespassing at the time of the dog bite attack, the owner may enjoy an exception to the strict liability rule for dog bites. In addition, if the victim is abusing or tormenting the dog at the time the dog bite occurs, the owner also may not be liable for the harm the victim suffers. If the victim is a child under the age of seven, it is presumed that the child was not engaged in any of these activities and it is likely the pet owner will be strictly liable for the harm.

Strict liability dog bite law is designed to ensure that victims that suffer harm from dog bites are properly protected from harm. Because damages from a dog bite injury can be significant and include scarring, disfigurement and emotional injury, compensation for harm may be available to help dog bite victims recover from the harm suffered.

Source:, “Dog’s potential euthanization postponed in Ware,” Barry Kriger, et al., Dec. 2, 2014