Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mini Horse Killed in Dog Attack, Owner is Cited

California’s Dog Bite Law can be found under Section 3342 of the Civil Code which states that, “The owner of a dog is liable to anyone bitten by their dog who is in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property, regardless of whether the dog has bit anyone before and regardless of whether the owner knew the dog had bitten anyone before.”

This means that in case of dog bite injuries or dog attacks in California, the theory of strict liability is applicable to the owner.

In Riverside, a miniature horse was attacked and killed by a pair of dogs owned by Cesar Siordia. The dogs, which were reported to be wolf-dog hybrids, escaped from Siordia’s home and mauled Chris Herron’s mini horse, Bojangles, in his ranch which is 3 miles from Siordia’s place.

One of the dogs were shot and killed and the other was caught by Animal Services and euthanized afterward. Allegedly, this wasn’t the first time Siordia’s pets attacked another animal. According to a neighbor, one of Siordia’s dogs escaped from the yard and attacked his Jack Russel terrier.

Herron has said that he plans to seek restitution from Siordia as he bought the mini horse for $5,000 and intended to give it to his girlfriend.

Animal Services has reported that although Siordia’s home has a 6-foot high chain link fence that is also electrified – it wasn’t high enough to prevent dogs from jumping over it and it was also unplugged at the time of the accident.

John Welsh, spokesman for Animal Services has said that, “Be a responsible pet owner and have a secured yard.” Siordia was cited by Animal Services for violation of leash laws.

Given the circumstances of the case, the owner of the mini-horse has every right to recover damages against the owner of the dogs because under the law in California, dog owners are liable for their pet's actions even for first time bites or even if the dog never displayed a hint of aggression prior to the attack. Although of course, there are situations wherein the dog owner’s liability may be reduced (i.e. trespasser bitten by a dog), the bottom line is, when you take on an animal you take on a responsibility.