Who is Liable for Dog Bite Injuries & Property Damage at Work?

The question of whether to allow dogs in the workplace is one that many employers face. A dog-friendly office can be a major perk for many employees, and sometimes fulfilling ADA requirements supersede an employer’s decision, if an employee with disabilities requires a service animal to do their job.

Outside of ADA considerations, allowing pet dogs in the office can open an employer up to major liability, since generally, employers will be liable for dog attacks and damages that occur in the workplace, although dog owners share some of that liability. While the exact legal specifics may vary by state and individual case, the liability general falls into two categories: personal injury and property damage.

Personal Injury Liability

Unlike homeowners and renters insurance policies, which typically cover the legal expenses of dog bite liability, dogs in the workplace are not excluded from liability. If a dog attacks and injures an employee, customer, or any guests invited onsite, the business owner can be held liable. The dog owner could be liable as well, and the injured employee could potentially sue both the employer and the dog owner.

Property Damage Liability

Another factor to consider if dogs are allowed in the workplace is property damage. Dogs can be destructive, especially if they are bored or not adequately trained, and allowing them in an office can easily lead to the destruction of office equipment, including chairs, computer monitors, and carpets. These are all things the employer would have to replace if they get damaged by a dog. And if a dog damages another employee’s personal property that is rightfully in the office, the employer could be held liable.

Insurance & Indemnification

One solution to both of these liability issues is to have comprehensive rules for dogs allowed in the office. The employer may choose to require the owner to get insurance that covers any injuries their dog causes. They can also require that employees planning to bring dogs to work sign an indemnification agreement, meaning the employee will have to cover the cost of defending the company against dog bite injury cases. In addition, the employer can ask the employee to sign a contract saying they will cover the cost of property damaged by their dog.

While some employees may think these policies seem extreme or unnecessary, they help ensure that a dog-friendly office is also employer-friendly by limiting the liability the company faces if problems arise.

Conclusion

Welcoming furry friends to the workplace can contribute to a better work culture, helping to attract and retain employees. While not all risks can be avoided, employers can take steps to limit their liability while making employees happy. In addition to the policies regarding insurance, the employer should create written policies explaining the details of the dog-friendly office that include everything from how often dogs are allowed to be there to what will happen if a dog misbehaves. 

Ultimately, each business owner will have to weigh the benefits against the risks and then decide. If employers establish detailed, well-thought-out policies that they enforce fairly, there is a much better chance of the program working out well for all parties involved: employers, landlords, employees, and dogs.

Dogs in the Workplace: ADA Considerations

Should dogs be allowed in the workplace?

From employer liability to improving office culture, there are strong arguments to be made on both sides. Generally, it is up to the employer to weigh the pros and cons of a dog-friendly office then decide accordingly. But in some cases, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) dictates whether dogs must (or must not) be allowed in a specific workplace based on individual employee needs.

Here we will examine a few examples of common scenarios that arise related to dogs in the workplace and the ADA. If you fall into one of these categories and find that your employer is not complying with federal regulations, you may need to contact an employee rights lawyer in your area who handles ADA cases.

ADA Provisions for Service Dogs

If an employee with a disability requires a service animal to help them perform the essential functions of the job, the ADA generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, as requested by the employee. In this case, the accommodation would be allowing the dog, provided that doing so does not cause the employer undue hardship.

It is important to note that only dogs are recognized as service animals: Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Some states may use a broader definition than the ADA’s.) The service animal must stay under the owner’s control and must be restrained.

Service dogs may not be accommodated in workplaces requiring a sterile environment, like a medical lab or a restaurant kitchen. Allowing dogs in those types of settings may compromise patient, product, or food safety.

ADA Provisions for Animal Allergies

While dog allergies do not invalidate the provisions of the ADA, the law may also protect a person with allergies serious enough to be a disability. And even if not considered a disability, the allergies could make that employee less productive, indicating 

If an employee has a severe allergic reaction to dogs, the employer will most likely not be allowed to open the workplace to dogs. But if one employee requires a service dog and another is severely allergic, there can be a conflict.

When These Needs Conflict

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut solution to the conflict, and people have a variety of opinions on this topic. According to the ADA, ideally, the employer will find a way to keep the two in separate areas of the building, so the one can have their service dog and the other can avoid the allergy trigger.

Additional adjustments may be required to develop a win-win solution. Since creating ADA accommodations is a unique, interactive process that requires good-faith discussion, the employer and the two affected employees should meet to discuss their options. Possibilities to consider include:

  • Provide one or both employees with private/enclosed workspace.
  • Use a portable air purifier at each workstation.
  • Adjust the employees’ work schedules so they do not work at the same time.
  • Allow one of the employees to work from home or in another location.
  • Allow employees to take rest breaks if needed (ie: to take allergy medicine).
  • Ask the employee who uses the dog if he or she is able to temporarily use other accommodations during meetings attended by both employees.
  • Provide alternatives to in-person communication, such as email and videoconferencing.
  • Add HEPA filters to the office’s ventilation system.
  • Ensure that the work area (including carpets and floors) is cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed regularly.

Different Degrees of Dog-Friendliness

For employer liability purposes and dog allergies, the best decision may be to limit dogs in the workplace to service animals, rather than allowing for a dog-friendly office that allows employees to bring their dogs to work as they please. If having dogs is seen as a major perk, one option is to make it a special occasion rather than an everyday thing by holding an annual or semi-annual Bring Your Pet to Work Day.

How Does Divorce Affect Dogs?

The loss of a marriage can be devastating. Not only are you losing a relationship, but your sense of every day normalcy. But it’s not only you that will be struggling to find a new routine – your furry best friend will be as well. According to recent studies, it’s estimated that up to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. “Going through a divorce can be an incredibly tumultuous, stressful ordeal’, says a San Diego divorce attorney. Unfortunately, in many cases, dogs end up being collateral damage. If you’re thinking about filing for divorce or in the process of separating from your partner, be mindful of these changes that your dog may exhibit.

While looking for a new home after separation or making different plans for the usually split holidays can be frustrating, imagine how stressful it can be for your family dog. Tense arguments filled with shouting aren’t easy for them to understand it isn’t directed at or about them. Or, the sudden absence of a beloved owner can be confusing and disorienting. 

Unlike humans, dogs aren’t able to directly communicate when they are upset, in pain or experiencing stress. Instead, they act it out through changes in their behavior. Stress in dogs can manifest in many different ways, including:

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is typically triggered when they witness their owner or loved one preparing to leave. In some cases, the dog will try to block the owner from physically leaving or start loudly barking and keep barking after the owner has left. According to the ASPCA, common symptoms of separation anxiety include chewing, digging, destruction, barking, howling, and using the bathroom in the house. Owners can work with a professional counter-conditioning program to teach their pets that they will be okay being alone. 

Depression

In less severe cases, depression in dogs can lessen over time with lots of love and a new routine. Unfortunately, some dogs may experience depression symptoms that are similar to those in people, such as avoidance/hiding, paw licking, changes in appetite, inability to find joy in the things they did before, and spending more time sleeping. 

Aggression

As stated above, dogs are unable to communicate their feelings directly and may act out when they are distressed. This can manifest in many different ways such as snapping, biting, and growling. It’s important to talk with your veterinarian if these symptoms develop, as aggression can also mean illness is present.

Unfortunately, dogs can end up the casualty of a broken home. Many dogs end up at a shelter or an adoption agency after a divorce, due to the inability to care for the pet as an individual. If you’re planning on getting a divorce, be sure to consider your pets feelings as they are part of your family too.

How Dogs Have Benefited From The Stay-at-Home Orders

While this has been a very trying time for people all over the world, there is one group of mammals that have benefited from the mandatory stay-at-home order – dogs! From surges in purchases of pet products to shelters being cleared out, our furry, four-legged friends have been seeing a rise in attention. In April, the Chicago Animal Care and Control center ran out of adoptable animals for the first time ever. During these unprecedented times, the emotional support that pets provide their stressed out owners have been extremely valuable. It’s only right that dogs are having their moment in the spotlight. Here are a few ways that dogs have been benefiting from the stay-at-home orders. 

Increase in Fostering and Adoptions 

As mentioned above, shelters are seeing a spike in applications for fosters and adoptions. This may be due to people having to work from home or stay at home during their off hours. The mandatory shutdowns have given people less of a reason to go out and more time to give attention to a dog.

Less Opportunities to Cause Trouble

As owners are required to stay at home, many dogs with special issues, such as separation anxiety, are able to get the additional attention they require. According to a Santa Ana personal injury lawyer, “An owner is held to a strict liability standard of care to protect victims of dog bites and/or dog attacks.” If the dog has their owner or a person nearby, they may be less likely to aggressively act out towards other dogs or strangers.

More Activity

Instead of sleeping the day away, dogs are getting in more walking time than ever before. During such a mentally trying time, people are finding it beneficial to stay active through exercise and taking daily walks. Since owners aren’t rushing out of the door to get to work, they are able to take more leisurely morning walks, along with lunch-time and evening walks. 

Increase in Pet-Related Purchases 

Between the uptick in adoptions and paying closer attention to their animals’ habits and needs, owners have been investing more money into their pets’ health and living conditions. Visits to the veterinarians have increased, as well as money spent on dog leashes and other necessities

While the current pandemic has been stressful and sometimes scary, one positive is that our furry friends are getting the extra love and attention they deserve. Take advantage of this quality time you have with your dog to go on longer walks, play more games of fetch, and sneak them an extra treat.

Do I Need Dog Liability Insurance? 

Owning a dog is a major responsibility. In addition to buying material things such as food, medicine and toys, dogs need other plans in place to protect their well-being. This is where dog liability insurance comes in. Known mostly for protecting owners against legal repercussions that could happen after a dog attack, dog liability insurance protects you from financial responsibility if your dog injures a person, another dog, or causes property damage. While it may seem like an added cost to an already pricey playmate, having dog liability insurance can save you from future financial hardship. 

What Does Dog Liability Insurance Cover?

Dog liability insurance helps to pay for any property damage or medical bills that result from a dog’s action. For example, this can include medical costs related to a fall caused by a loose dog that resulted in a broken arm. According to a Richmond personal injury attorney, “Accidents that lead to broken bones can occur out of the blue and almost always have an impact on [their] health for years to come.” In addition to medical costs, liability insurance can also cover damages done to another person’s property such as a destroyed fence. 

Why Would I Be Denied Dog Liability Insurance?

While denial for dog liability coverage is rare, it can happen. The most common reasons include the breed of the dog and the dog’s history of aggressive behavior and attacks. After an attack, the future insurance premium can increase and the insurance company can refuse to renew the policy. As for breeds, some animals are known to be more aggressive than others and are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior. 

 

Which Dogs do Insurance Companies Consider Dangerous?

Even if a dog has been with an owner since it was a puppy and has never displayed aggressive behavior, there are certain breeds that are considered dangerous. In addition to being denied liability insurance, a dog can also be banned from attending certain dog camps or schools, as well as being denied residency in certain apartment communities or areas. 

The 10 dog breeds that are commonly blacklisted include:

  • Rottweilers
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Pittbull Terriers
  • German Shepherds
  • Presa Canarios
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Wolf-hybrids
  • Mastiffs
  • Cane Corsos
  • Alaskan Malamutes

Caring for a dog is much more than just playing fetch or taking it for walks. It’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect both yourself and your dog from the outside world. If you’re considering adopting a furry friend to add to your family, be sure to do some research about dog liability insurance before you bring the dog home.

Should Dogs Wear Seatbelts in The Car?

For many, there’s nothing better than a long road trip with the perfect playlist and their best friend riding in the seat next to them. A smooth ride, clear skies, and miles of flat road sound like a dream for the modern explorer. Of course, with adventure should come precautionary safety measures for you and your passenger – regardless if they have two or four legs. 

If your car co-pilot happens to be the furry, four-legged kind, it’s important to take the same steps to keep them safe while your dog is riding in the car with you. Dog seat belts, which come in several different forms such as a harness or a bucket seat, can prevent dogs from being seriously injured in a car accident should occur. 

Car accidents can happen any day of the week, at any time. There are numerous causes for a car accident to happen, such as the actions of a distracted driver or an environmental factor such as a neglected street covered with potholes. According to Kansas City car accident lawyer Samuel Wendt, “A poorly designed roadway or parking lot, malfunctioning traffic lights, poor roadway maintenance, low visibility due to overgrown shrubs, potholes, road debris, and unsafe construction zones are all examples of defects”.

With so many dangers on the road, making sure your dog is secure in your vehicle is a great way to avoid being a factor in a motor vehicle crash. Here are a few tips for using a dog seatbelt:

  • If you have a small or medium dog, opt for a dog car seat and save the harnesses for large dogs.
  • Shorten dog harnesses if the window is open to avoid the dog from having enough slack to jump out of the window.
  • Seat dogs in the backseat. If an airbag is deployed in the event of an accident, a dog could be seriously, even fatally injured. 

If you’re planning on bringing your dog along on your next trip, pick up a dog seat belt to ensure they make it home in one piece. Visit a site like Amazon.com or Chewy.com have lots of dog seat belt options for pups of all shapes and sizes.

Is Driving With Your Dog Dangerous?

Road trips are fun on their own, but bringing your furry best friend can make it even better. According to a recent study, over 80% of dog owners drive with their pets in the car. Not only is it convenient to bring your dog along, it can give them something to look forward to. For many dogs, riding in the car with the windows down is a treat. 

Unfortunately, driving with dogs is not always a fun time. Without proper restraints or training, dogs can interfere with the task of driving and put everyone in the car in danger. If you plan on cruising with your canine companion, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Consider the Back Seat

The ideal place for your dog is in the back seat. By having your dog in the back seat, they are protected in the event of a head-on collision. Airbags are not made for pets and can crush the dog or inflict fatal injuries in the event of an accident. According to Richmond car accident lawyer Christina Pendleton, “The aftermath of a car accident is undoubtedly chaotic.” By having them strapped in the back seat, this will eliminate most distractions and death if you’re involved in a car crash.

Keep Them Restrained

A strap or dog car seat can keep your dog from moving around the vehicle and possibly causing a major accident. Try out different car seats to see what works best for your pup and is the most comfortable for them for both short-term and long-term travel when it comes to driving with your dog

All Heads/Limbs Should Stay Inside The Vehicle

It’s common to see a dog sticking their head out of a passenger or driver’s side window while driving down the street. The rush of fresh air and wind in their ears can be an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, this is not safe for anyone involved. Having their head or limbs outside of the vehicle can tempt a dog to jump out into traffic, possibly getting injured or causing another car accident. Feel free to roll your windows down but not low enough for your pet to hang outside of it. 

Do Not Leave Them Alone

As tempting as it can be to leave your dog in the car while you run into the store for five minutes, it can be extremely dangerous for your dog. On a hot day, the temperature inside a car is much higher than it is outside and degrees can sometimes soar into the hundreds. Leave your dog at home or drop them off at home before you go run errands in establishments where they are not welcome. 

As fun as driving with your dog can be, you should keep safety in mind above all else. As long as you ensure that your dog is strapped in and is a limited distraction, you can continue to enjoy life on the road with your furry friend! 

What To Do When Your Dog Is Attacked By Another Dog

Taking your furry friend to a dog-friendly location is one of the best parts of owning a pet. Besides being able to bring your dog out with you while you enjoy dinner or run errands, your dog will have a chance to experience a different environment and enjoy socializing with other people and dogs. But what happens if your precious pooch is attacked by another dog during an outing? 

If your dog has been attacked and seriously injured due to the negligence of another dog owner, it’s important that you understand your rights. Learn more about what your next steps are below.

Assess Your Dog’s Injuries 

It’s important to do a thorough check of your dog in the presence of the other owner to ensure all injuries are correctly documented. Have your dog walk around to check for limping or if they are stumbling and can’t seem to stay balanced. Additionally, take a close look at yourself and how you feel in case you were injured while trying to break the dogs up. According to Seattle personal injury attorney Janelle Bailey, “Dog bites can be physically and emotionally traumatic.”

Trade Information With The Owner

If your dog initially seems to be okay, it’s still important to trade information with the other owner in case injuries show up later. Soft-tissue injuries and internal injuries can show up later and may need medical attention. Ask for copies of the owners’ license and pet’s license, and vaccination records. 

Get Your Dog Medical Help

If your dog has visible bite marks and bleeding, do not hesitate to take your dog to the vet’s office. Dogs carry a variety of bacteria in their mouths that can be deadly or cause a serious infection. 

Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior

In the hours and days after your dog has been attacked, watch your dog’s behavior closely. It’s important to continue on with your regular routine to prevent your dog from becoming fearful of encountering new dogs or new situations. Changes in mannerisms are expected due to the traumatic event but if your dog is displaying signs of aggression, lethargy or extreme irritation, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Regardless of whether it lasted a few seconds or a few minutes, dog attacks can be an extremely traumatic event for everyone involved. Take the necessary steps after the attack to protect both yourself and your dog from any further problems. 

Can I Get A Dental Disease From Kissing My Dog?

One of the best parts about owning a canine companion is the endless amounts of love and affection that comes with it. According to a recent study by the organic dog treat company, Riley’s Organics, roughly 52% of dog owners admitted to kissing their dogs more than their partners. While it’s a sweet gesture, are there hidden dangers lurking behind those slobbery kisses that can impact your health?

There’s an old saying about how a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a toilet bowl, but it’s exactly that – just a saying. Your dog engages in a lot of less-than-sterile activities, such as cleaning themselves, licking up spills on the kitchen floor and chewing sticks from the park. 

According to research, dogs and humans share several of the same types of bacteria that can cause gum disease. While studies are still being done regarding the risk of catching a periodontal disease, the overall verdict is that there is a very little risk when it comes to catching it from kissing your pet. In many cases, most transfers of bacteria between pets and humans with weak immune systems result in upset stomachs, diarrhea, and fevers. 

If you worry about maintaining good dental health so you can continue to smooch your pooch, work with a dentist that covers all areas of treatment, such as the Phoenix family dentist at Dental on Central. The team of sedation and special needs dentists in Phoenix specializes in regular check-ups and gum disease treatment. 

Overall, there are no definitive studies that show you can catch a dental disease from your pup, so go ahead and shower your furry friend with love!

How Is Dog Custody Determined in a Divorce?

The process of divorce can be an extremely stressful time for everyone involved, right down to the dog. Owning a pet together is a major milestone in many relationships, with few couples thinking about what would happen to their canine companion should they separate. For many, the thought of no longer living with or seeing their beloved pet is just as bad as having to share custody with a former partner. If you are facing divorce in the near future and are worried about what will happen to your pet, it’s important to understand how pet custody works in the court of law.

What is Pet Custody?

Pet custody is another term related to an owner and dog relationship. Pet custody is usually established by who the dog lives with, who takes physical care of the dog and who is financially responsible for the dog. Because in many cases, a dog is a shared purchase with finances related to care split down the middle, this can become a complicated part of the divorce process.

How is Pet Custody Decided?

In most states, a dog is considered to be property. According to the Boston property division attorney at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, “The division of estates of the parties upon divorce is supposed to entail a final assignment of their property, not subject to modification.” There are no special statuses’ for dogs under the law and they are not considered the same as children. Currently, people are moving to have this changed. In some cases, judges make rulings that involve visitation with the pet and shared finances related to care. 

Before the ruling, a judge is interested in the following factors such as: 

  • Who cared for the pet? (Feeding, grooming, healthcare)
  • Who spent the most time with the pet? (Testimonies may be required)
  • Where the parties will live after the divorce 
  • Who will provide the best environment for the pet
  • Who will have primary custody of the child/children after the divorce

Create a Shared Pet Parenting Plan

If possible, working out a parenting plan for the dog with your ex-partner might be the best for all parties involved. Depending on your schedules, create an arrangement that will allow everyone to maintain a positive relationship with the animal. 

Dogs are used to having a regular schedule so if their routine is disrupted, they may act out. Be flexible and patient, as there will be an adjustment period for them. Also, it’s important to work out an agreement regarding the pet’s expenses. Create a shared account that is strictly for the pet and their needs, including grooming, vet bills, food, dog-walkers, and toys. 

Divorce is a stressful and traumatic process for everyone involved. Having a furry friend nearby as a familiar comfort can help ease the process and help both parties work towards a positive co-parenting relationship moving forward.