Now that the weather is finally nice, I started my nightly walks again with my neighbor around a walking trail near my neighborhood. On this trail, there are many pedestrians, joggers and dog owners walking their dogs.
On one of our walks last week, we heard a noise behind us. We turned around and saw a big Golden Retriever or a Yellow Lab running toward us with someone, who we assumed was his owner, riding on a bike behind the dog. As the dog and the guy on the bike approached us, we realized that the dog was not on a leash. We tried to step out of the way, but the dog almost knocked my neighbor down. My neighbor let out a noise as she tried to keep her balance, and the guy on the bike said as he rode by us, “Oh, are you afraid of dogs?”
We looked at each other a bit shocked. Being afraid of dogs had nothing to do with the fact that the dog should have been on a leash. I see many dogs on the trail that are not on leashes, and I do not understand why.
Under PA dog law, dogs do not have to be on a leash, but dog owners are required to keep their dogs under reasonable control. I would say that an unleashed dog running ahead of his owner is a dog not under reasonable control of the owner. If the dog attacked us and we sustained injuries that night, the owner may be responsible for our injuries and damages.
Related Dog Attack Article: Pennsylvania Dog Attack and Dog Bite Law-An Overview
If I am walking with someone and see unleashed dogs, we usually step aside and not move as the dogs pass us. If I am with my young sons, then I usually pick them up. When dog owners see us step aside, the typical response is, “Don’t worry, he’s very gentle.” Another response is, “He won’t bite.”
How do the owners know for a fact that their dogs won’t attack or they won’t bite? The answer is, they don’t. As much as dog owners think their dogs won’t attack or bite, the fact of the matter is, they don’t know for certain. I don’t have anything against dogs. I love them. In fact, I have one myself, but I also know that dogs are unpredictable.
In my law practice, my colleagues and I have seen many injured victims of dog attacks mauled or bitten by dogs that their dog owners never thought would attack, i.e., a friend’s dog, a babysitter’s dog, even a victim’s family dog. In fact, there are many news reports in recent months about family dogs attacking family members, especially young children under the age of 5.
No matter how gentle or cute dogs may seem or look, the bottom line is, they are unpredictable. You never know what is going to provoke a dog to attack.
If you or a loved one was attacked or bitten by a dog in Pennsylvania and want to explore your legal rights, call Daniel J. O’Brien, an experienced dog attack injury lawyer who has helped victims of vicious dog attacks. Call 877.944.8396 to schedule a free consultation.
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