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Who Do You Sue If You Were Attacked By A Dog In PA Due To The Failure Of An "Invisible Fence"?

 

A:

Many Pennsylvania dog owners let their dogs out on their front yards or back yards.  If the front or back yards are fenced in, dogs are often left in the yard without a leash.  Dogs are kept on the premises due to the fence.  Dog owners who do not have fenced in front or back yards may use an "invisible fence" to keep their dogs on their premises. 

Unfortunately, an "invisible fence" must be working properly in order to successfully keep the dog on the premises.  Otherwise, the dog can escape and attack an innocent victim.

Below is a question we received regarding a dog that ran through an "invisible fence" and attacked a neighbor.

Question From A PA Resident Attacked By A Neighbor's Dog

Q: I was bitten by a dog which ran through an "invisible fence" type of system that goes around the perimeter of my neighbor's yard. The dog would usually run up to the edge of the lawn and stop because of an electric shock that the dog would get from the invisible fence. My neighbor tells me that the fence was "on" and he cannot understand how or why the dog got passed it. Is there anything I can do even though the neighbor says that his fence was on?

A: The use of any type of restraint or control system, whether a leash, a fence or an electronic dog control system, is not an absolute defense if a dog bites an individual without provocation. It is the dog owner's responsibility to control the dog. 

Under Pennsylvania dog attack law, dog owners have the duty to keep their dogs under proper and adequate control.  For a detailed discussion on PA's "leash law," see PA & NJ Dog Attacks- Owner’s Duty To Keep Dogs Under Control

The installation of an "invisible fence" system and placing the collar on a dog is not the end of the story as far as responsibility and properly controlling the dog. These systems require upkeep, battery replacement, etc. Certain dogs are so aggressive that these types of systems are not effective. Therefore, the mere fact that the electric system was set up and apparently activated at the time of the attack does not provide an absolute defense for the dog owner. 

Also, there is a possibility that the electronic control system was either installed improperly or malfunctioned in some fashion. All of this will have to be investigated and the only effective way of doing that is to have subpoena power which can only be obtained by filing a lawsuit.

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