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Hounding Housemates for Liability

  • Published: June 25, 2015

Three dogs escape from a backyard and attack a four year old boy and his grandfather who are out walking. Luckily the two are able to escape, retreating back in to their nearby house and fighting off the dogs. Unfortunately in this altercation the grandfather sustains minor injuries and the boy has his ears partially amputated, requiring plastic surgery to fix his wounds.

Now, the owner of these three dogs is out of town and thus understandably wasn’t looking after them or keeping control of them. His two housemates however were in town and in fact inside the house when the dogs let themselves loose. So who’s liable?

The answer is potentially everybody. The mother and her son proceeded to successfully sue all three housemates. Their claim was that while the dogs are the technical property of the one housemate, the other two knew of their violent propensities and should have been keeping a better watch on them.

What this means is that everyone who takes care of a pet, be it a pet sitter, a significant other, a housemate, or even a friend crashing on the couch for a few days, is potentially liable for that animal’s actions. So no matter how sweet and lovable your friend’s pets seem to be, it will never hurt to keep a close eye on them while you’re around, whether or not you think you are in charge.