Who’s Liable When a Dog is Hit by a Car?

As a dog owner, you always strive to protect your pet and keep them safe. However, despite the efforts and best intentions of even the most experienced owners, sometimes a situation arises where a pet is exposed to danger. According to a study put together by Pet Playgrounds, approximately 1.2 million dogs are killed by motor vehicles in the U.S. every year. Even if a dog is fortunate enough to survive being struck by a car, it is almost certain that they will suffer serious injuries in the collision.

We hope that you never have to deal with the aftermath of your beloved pet being hit by a car. However, if your pet is involved in a collision, we put together this guide to help you understand how liability is determined in such a situation. Please note that this guide does not cover all possible scenarios and seek out experienced, local counsel for your unique case.

How Are Dogs Struck by Motor Vehicles?

Dogs tend to be curious, even if they spend most of their time indoors. Your dog may see something they want to chase, such as the neighbor’s cat or a squirrel. Unfortunately, this can put them in danger if they incidentally put themselves in the path of an oncoming car. If the driver is traveling over the speed limit or is distracted, they may find themselves unable to stop their car in time to avoid a collision. In some cases, a dog may unexpectedly run out in front of a motor vehicle, leaving the driver no way to avoid striking them.

In some cases, dogs and other pets may sleep underneath a parked car for warmth or safety from other animals. The car’s operator may not realize this and attempt to drive away with the animal still under the vehicle, which can easily cause serious or fatal injuries. If you or a family member park your car outside in a residential area where there are likely pets and roaming animals, you should always be sure to check under the vehicle before getting inside.

Analyzing the Circumstances of the Collision

When it comes to animal-related collisions, the underlying circumstances of the crash are incredibly important. Was a dog running free without supervision? Was the responsible motorist driving safely or recklessly at the time of the crash? Were there any underlying factors (low visibility, a poorly designed road, etc.) that played a role in the accident? We discuss some of the animal-related situations that can potentially arise.

  • Unsupervised pet: In most cases, it is a pet owner’s responsibility to protect their dog from traffic. They can do so by using a proper leash, keeping their dog supervised, and ensuring that any open yard space is surrounded by a fence of an appropriate durability and height. Many counties have leash laws that require pets of all types to be tethered to their owner while in public. If an unsupervised pet is struck by a car, it is likely that the owner will be responsible for any ensuing medical bills and potentially even damages to the car.
  • Distracted or impaired driver: A driver’s behavior can determine whether they bear some responsibility for striking someone’s dog. If a driver is on their phone and not paying attention to the road, for example, they may be found responsible for causing a collision that could have reasonably been avoided. Another reason that a driver may be found at least partially liable is if they were impaired at the time of the accident. According to the Rosenstein Law Group, responding officers may begin an investigation into whether the driver was under the influence in the event of a serious accident.
  • Livestock collision: Although not specifically dog-related, livestock crashes do occur with some regularity around farms and in rural areas, so we wanted to discuss this scenario as well. A livestock crash will almost always cause substantially more damage than a collision between a motor vehicle and a household pet. Full-grown cows can weight more than 1,500 pounds and an adult bull can weigh more than 2,000 pounds. Striking one of these animals at a high speed is oftentimes enough to cause serious damage to a car and catastrophic injuries to its passengers.

Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting a Dog or Other Animal?

State laws on pet ownership vary, but many states consider dogs as property when it comes to insurance. If a dog is unsupervised and it runs into the road, it is likely that the owner would be responsible for paying for any ensuing vet bills. However, when a driver is acting recklessly or intentionally strikes an animal, they may be liable for the injured pet’s care. In some cases, the driver’s auto insurance policy may decline to pay for damages if the driver intentionally struck the pet with their car.

Steps to Prevent Your Dog From Being Struck by a Car

Even if you live in a remote area, chances are you and your pets encounter cars daily. To help you protect your dog from traffic, we’ve put together a list of proactive steps you can take to keep them safe.

  1. Teach “wait” and “sit” when you and your dog exit your house or come to a curb. By reinforcing these commands, you reduce the chances of your dog running into the street.
  2. Pay attention when walking your dog and use an appropriate-length lease that does not allow your pet to wander into the path of oncoming cars.
  3. Do not leave your dog unattended in your yard, even if you are confident that they cannot escape. Be particularly mindful of where your dog is during holidays, when your dog might be more stressed or afraid than usual.
  4. Check your surrounding when arriving at or leaving your residence. Verify that there is not an animal under your car before starting the engine and make sure that there are no pets in your path as you back up or park your vehicle.

5 Tips To Help Your Rescue Dog Adjust Well

If you are thinking about adopting a dog, or just adopted one, here are five tips to help your new pup adjust to your home. 

Tip 1: Look At The Notes Provided By The Shelter

Most of the time, when you adopt a dog from a shelter the employees there identify what kind of environment your new dog will do best in. Some possible environments are: single pet home, no kids, no men in the house, etc. These labels are likely due to previous traumatic experiences, or predispositions to violent behavior. 

Be sure that your house actually represents the environment that works best for that specific dog, doing so you can prevent needless pain in the long run. If a “no kids” dog were to end up in a house with children, they could potentially bite that dog. Take a look at the list of reasons why dogs bite, to gain more understanding. 

Tip 2: Establish a Routine 

Animals thrive when they stick to routines, so from day one, work on crafting a one that works for you. Some daily events that you may want to incorporate into your plan could be: 

  • Meal times 
  • Walk times 
  • Play time with other dogs 
  • When they can use their toys 
  • Crate time (if that applies to your dog) 
  • Keeping rules consistent about if your dog is allowed on beds, the couch, etc. 

Tip 3: Expect Some Delays 

When adjusting to a new environment, most dogs will make mistakes along the way. This could be in the form of accidents in the house, barking, escape attempts, or other types of mild behavioral issues. These annoying occurrences can be temporary and resolved on their own, or may need professional intervention. 

Depending on your dogs’ individual history and circumstances, you can support them during this period in a variety of ways. If your new family member is prone to accidents, perhaps use disposable potty pads in the meantime to help reduce messes. Or, if your dog is an escape artist, be sure that your fence is reinforced. Keeping your dog in their home at all times is optimal for the safety of the dog and for the neighbors around you. 

Tip 4: Be Proactive 

Along those lines, some dogs begin to display more severe behavioral issues that need a more aggressive plan of action. Some signs of severe behavioral issues that you should never ignore include: 

  • Food guarding 
  • Toy guarding 
  • Growling or defensiveness towards other people 
  • Growling or lunging at other dogs when on walks 
  • Baring their teeth  

These issues can escalate into attacks, which severely injure the victim and even threaten the lives of the dog due to dog bite laws. Though states like California are a bit more lenient with their dog bite laws, as you can see here from Harting Simkins & Ryan’s website, this is a situation any pet parent wants to avoid at all costs. 

In order to combat these problems, consider hiring professional dog training to intervene. If this is not a financial possibility for you, reach out to the shelter you adopted your dog from and they can often connect you with free or low cost resources.

Tip 5: Be Patient  

Overall, the adoption and adjustment process can be long and laborious; so patience is essential throughout the journey. In order to give your dog the space they need to adjust well consider: 

  • Setting realistic goals for your dog’s development (don’t take them on a cross country road trip the week they get home!!)
  • Give yourself and your dog some alone time 
  • If an accident happens in the house or a frustrating moment occurs, take some time to yourself before responding to your dog 

Adopting a dog can be such a loving and rewarding process. By keeping these tips in mind we hope that you and your pet adjust well to their new home.

Establishing Custody of a Shared Pet After A Breakup or Divorce

Going through a divorce or breakup is a difficult process no matter what the circumstances may be. However, if you and your ex partner share a pet, the emotional results can be even more devastating. In this article we will explore the process and impact of establishing custody of a pet after a couple splits. 

Impacts Losing Your Dog After a Divorce or Breakup

For many dog lovers, it comes as no surprise that humans forge a deep and emotional bond with the pets in their lives. In fact, when you begin to hangout with your pattern’s dogs and pets, a definite psychological bond can be formed. Whether the dog was purchased before the relationship began, or as a shared pet, the resulting bond can feel the same. 

Unfortunately, when the relationship comes to an end, the person left without the pet can feel legitimate grief and loneliness as if they had lost a pet. Furthermore, your course of action depends greatly on where in the country you live, due to differing pet custody laws across the nation. 

Pet Custody Laws


If you and your ex partner live in states like California, the pet is not necessarily considered personal property. This means that pets, like dogs and cats, would be viewed in a family law court and both parties could enter into a custody agreement. Through a process that mimics child custody agreements (albeit, much less complex in most cases) both parties can reach an agreement that keeps the pet’s best interests in mind. 

However, if you and your ex enter into a shared pet custody agreement, be sure to abide by that agreement to the T. Since this is a legally binding document, withholding the dog or other pet from their owner could be viewed as a form of kidnapping by California law. 


Alternatively, states like Arizona view pets simply as personal property. This does not allow a grieving ex spouse many options. Essentially, if you did not purchase the pet, then you have no rights to ownership after the relationship dissolves. You and your ex partner can use mediation and other tactics to reach an informal pet custody agreement, but the courts cannot mandate shared custody of the pet like they can in California and other states. 

In the event that your ex has no interest in a pet custody agreement, coming to terms with losing a pet in your life can be quite difficult. But using a good coping mechanism is important, because attempting to take the pet despite legal precedent could result in a theft charge. According to Arizona criminal defense lawyers at Stewart Law Group, a class 6 charge could carry fines up to $2,000.

Final Thoughts 

Breakups are never easy, and they can be especially emotional if a pet is involved. Depending on where you live at the time of the breakup, you may be able to use a pet custody agreement to still see them. However, if that is not an option for you, here are some resources to help you grieve the situation. 

How Can You Celebrate National Dog Day With Your Pet?

National Dog Day is celebrated annually in the United States on August 26th. As an all-day event, you and your fellow dog lovers across the country can celebrate for however long you like. We’ve put together a list of fun ways to celebrate the holiday and show your furry friend just how much you love them.

Go for an Adventure

Many dogs love going on adventures with their owners. From long walks on new trails to spending time at the local dog beach, spending some time outdoors with your furry companion is a great way to kick off the holiday. If you’ve been meaning to explore a new area of your city, hiking trail, or other dog-friendly place, take your pet with you! If your dog is anxious or afraid of new places, you can stick to a tried-and-true local route that you know they’re comfortable with. The Hill Law Firm warns that a startled or anxious dog may be more likely to bite, so it’s best to stick to their comfort level when it comes time to get outdoors.

Have Some Other Pets Over

If your pup has some other canine friends, consider having them over to have a fun playdate. You can alternatively go to a local dog park or dog-friendly beach so your dog can make plenty of new friends. Make sure your dog is comfortable interacting with strange dogs if you do decide to go to the dog park. Some dogs can be overwhelmed if they haven’t spent a lot of time around other animals, particularly if they are a young puppy.

Make Some Dog-Friendly Snacks

There are countless easy-to-follow recipes online for homemade biscuits and dog-friendly cakes. Baking something nice for your pet can be an enjoyable experience, and they’re sure to enjoy the results of your labor of love. If you don’t have time to make a handmade treat, you can always run to the store and pick up your dog’s favorite snack for them to enjoy. If you have any other pets over to celebrate the holiday, you might consider asking their owners what treats they like to make sure none of the pups are left out!

Buy Your Pup Something Nice

Maybe your dog is starting to outgrow their bed, or you want to get them a cute Halloween costume that you know they’ll love. There’s no better time to spoil your pet by getting them something nice than right now. You can even get them a new toy that they can play with, so they can exert their energy in a positive way and stay healthy.

Play Some Games

Playing some dog-friendly party games can be an enjoyable way to pass time, while also offering an opportunity to reinforce some basic commands. Make sure you have plenty of treats and toys on hand to play fetch or hide-and-seek, which lets you work on your pup’s “fetch,” “sit,” “come,” and “stay.” You and your furry companion are sure to have a good time!

Enjoy National Dog Day & Show Your Furry Friend Some Love

We hope that our suggestions help you and your furry friend have an amazing time during this year’s National Dog Day. Your pup is sure to enjoy whatever activities you plan for the day, from going to the park to enjoying some tasty treats!

What is the National “Clear the Shelters 2022” Event?

Since 2015, Telemundo and NBC stations have partnered with animal shelters across the United States to find ideal homes for pets. Clear the Shelters 2022 features both a pet adoption and donation campaign, so pets can find their forever home and local shelters can receive the funds they need to provide services for their communities. The event will run from August 1st through August 31st of 2022 and offer ways to adopt virtually or support participating rescues and shelters.

How Did the Event Begin?

According to NBC 7 San Diego, The Clear the Shelters campaign was inspired by a 2014 joint Telemundo and NBC pet adoption campaign in North Texas. The campaign was so successful that it resulted in the most adopted pets over a single 24 hour timeframe in the area. The following year, Telemundo and NBCUniversal worked together to broaden the scope of the adoption campaign to a national scale. Thus Clear the Shelters was born, resulting in more than a half-million adoptions since the campaign was first launched.

Are Any Organizations Near Me Participating in Clear the Shelters?

The official Clear the Shelters website has an interactive map of all the shelters and rescues participating in this year’s campaign. Simply put your zip code into the search tab underneath the map and you’ll be shown all the participating organizations nearby, complete with business hours and contact details.

You can also use the WeRescue app to browse nearby adoptable pets by size, breed, gender, and other factors on your phone. You’re able to submit an adoption application directly through the app. If you have any questions for the shelter employees, you can contact them through the app as well.

Why Should I Adopt From a Local Shelter?

Adopting your canine companion from a local shelter can be a fulfilling, life-changing experience. We’re always thrilled when someone adopts locally because:

  • You’re giving an unwanted, abandoned, or mistreated animal a second chance at a good life
  • You’re helping to combat the unethical practices of commercial pet-breeding facilities, which exist to profit at the expense of the animals in their care
  • Depending on your desires, you can adopt an adult dog that may already be partially or fully trained
  • The trainers, adoption specialists, and other staff members at the shelter will be great resources to help you and your pet live a healthy, comfortable life together
  • Local shelters have a wide range of animals up for adoption, meaning that you’ll almost certainly find the perfect companion for you and your loved ones
  • The pet you’re adopting has likely been treated well by trained staff members that prioritize the health and comfort of the canines in their care
  • You support the work of your local shelter or rescue, which helps them stay in business and protect other vulnerable animals in your community
  • Adoption fees are usually substantially smaller than the cost of a purebred puppy sold for profit

It’s important to remember that no matter where you receive your pet from, owning a dog is a huge commitment. Canines require considerable attention, care, and training to keep them healthy and happy. According to the team at Freedman Law, a poorly trained or mistreated dog may bite and cause serious harm, from life-threatening infections to permanent scarring.

Things to Think About Before Adopting a Dog

With this year’s Clear the Shelters event quickly approaching, there’s no better time to expand your family by rescuing a dog from your local shelter. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that taking care of a dog can be a challenge. To ensure your canine companion has the best possible life, remember that:

  • Dogs need time and attention, from daily exercise and play time to regular bathroom breaks
  • Some landlords and complexes either do not allow dogs or restrict certain breed ownership, which can make it a challenge to find a place to live
  • Dogs are expensive pets; everything from the food they eat to any medical care they may need over the course of their life quickly adds up
  • It may take your new dog several weeks or even months to warm up to you and your family members
  • Depending on your dog’s breed and temperament, they may not be suitable around loud or unruly children, since provoked or startled dogs may bite

Support Your Local Rescue During Clear the Shelters

If you’re ready to add a dog to your family, there’s no better time to do so than during the 2022 Clear the Shelters campaign. You can verify which shelters near you are participating through your local NBC affiliate or the Clear the Shelters official website.

Dog Friendly Restaurants: What Are The Risks? 

Many of us love our dogs so much that we naturally want to take them to dinner with us! In fact, there are entire databases like BringFido that are dedicated to helping you find an eatery near you that accommodates pets. Although dog-friendly restaurants are popping up all over the country, it is important to understand the risks of bringing your dog to a food establishment beforehand. 

Health Risks

Most of these restaurants make an extra effort to help the dogs of diners feel at home. Oftentimes, this includes communal water bowls for all of the patrons’ dogs. The risk here is that many canine-illnesses can be transmitted through communal dog bowls, and any kind of direct contact with an infected dog. While some of these illnesses are pretty mild, others like Leptospirosis can be life threatening in certain cases. Also, Leptospirosis can be spread to humans. If you opt to bring your dog to a pet friendly restaurant, keep them and the other pets at the safe by avoiding the communal dog bowl. 


Dog Fights

Watching your dog socialize with other dogs is part of the fun of bringing them to a pet-friendly restaurant! Although most dog encounters are peaceful, any time dogs get together it poses the risk of dog fights. Often moments before a dog fight there are physical symptoms that both pets display. The American Kennel Club has a complete guide to breaking up dog fights, but here are some characteristics of stress to keep an eye out for:

  • Vocalizing. Your dog might growl, whine, or bark.
  • Tucking the tail.
  • Flattening the ears back against the head.
  • Showing whale eye. This is when you can see the whites of your dog’s eyes.
  • Lip licking and/or panting.
  • Yawning.
  • Excessive sniffing. This can be a displacement behavior to avoid confronting the source of the stress.
  • Pacing
  • A “hard stare” towards the other dog, which is a sign of aggression.


A Dog Attacking A Patron 

Unfortunately, bringing dogs around public areas such as restaurants can lead to dogs biting humans. The severity of the injuries depends greatly on the specific factors of the incident, the breed of dog, and its level of aggression at the time. These dog bite incidents can range from minor scrapes and bruises to fatal injuries, and each situation is different. 

When you get bit by a dog, it is important to act quickly. The personal injury team at Harting Simkins & Ryan, LLP cite the importance of seeking medical attention after a dog bite incident. This can be due to medical concerns from the bite itself, or potential rabies exposure due to improper vaccination. 

There are many opinions on why dogs attack humans, but it is impossible to know the exact reasoning every time. Even dogs that do not have a history of aggressive behavior have still reportedly attacked humans. 

Ultimately, dog friendly restaurants are meant to be a fun addition to the dining experience. And most of the time, bringing your dog works out well for both the owner and the pet. However, it is important to keep the potential risks in mind before deciding whether bringing your pup with you is the best choice.  

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe on July 4th

With Independence Day approaching – the American holiday popular for firework displays – it’s important to think of our K9 friends. Most dogs are scared of fireworks, and as soon as the popping sounds start, they freak out. If you’ll be with a dog on July 4th, make sure you know how to keep their fear at bay and ensure their protection.

Set up a Safe Space

If your dog has a crate and they feel comfortable in there, set it up in a room far from the fireworks. Drape a blanket over the crate to block out light, and place your dog inside with a toy or treat for comfort before the fireworks begin. If your dog doesn’t use a crate, you can create another safe space for them. Again pick a room that is fairly dark and quiet, and give them some sort of comfortable set up with blankets. Leave your pet in their safe space throughout the fireworks, and don’t attempt to comfort them. This could reinforce their behavior, and confirm that they have a reason to be scared.

Do Exercise & Potty Before the Show

Make sure your pup gets their energy out and goes to the bathroom before they go into their safe space for the night. This will reduce the chance of them freaking out and running around, destroying things, and potentially peeing in the house. A tired and fed dog is a calm dog. If you have a mentally stimulating toy for your dog, you can put it in their safe space for continued distraction.

Collar & Microchip

Make sure your dog is wearing their collar during the firework show. Even if you don’t think they could escape, you would be surprised with how crafty a dog can be if they sense danger. If you don’t already have your dog microchipped, try and do so before the holiday, in case they escape and lose their collar. It can be a life saving backup option to identify your dog and get them home safe.

Use Anti-Anixety Tools if Needed

If your dog gets particularly freaked out by fireworks, talk to your vet before the holiday. They may choose to prescribe medication or suggest tactics that will keep your dog calm. Some people claim that CBD dog treats help with pet anxiety, but consult your veterinarian first.

If you have time leading up to the holiday, one tool to reduce anxiety would be to start positively reinforcing loud noises. You can use training to show your dog that they get treats when there are scary sounds, and this could reduce their fear when the fireworks start.

Final Tips

Having your dog get scared and escape can be terrifying for you and dangerous for them. Your beloved pet could get lost, get hit by a car, or bite someone out of fear. Dog bites go up in volume during the July 4th holiday, just like the number of dogs who run away. This is due to dogs’ increased fear, and therefore fight or flight response. It’s also due to the heat. So remember that not only are these steps important to increase your dog’s safety, but also those in your community.

What Types of Harm Can a Dog Bite Cause?

With a small number of exceptions, dog attacks do not occur randomly or suddenly. From minor bites that don’t break the skin to serious attacks that can have a lifelong impact, most incidents occur when a dog feels that biting is their best reaction. The aggressive dog often displays warning signs prior to attacking, which may include growling, loud barking, or snapping at the air. However, these signs may be missed, particularly if the victim is a young child or unfamiliar with dogs and their warning behaviors.

In this article, we discuss some of the reasons that a dog may attack and the types of injuries that a canine bite can cause. Our goal is to help people understand how to interact with dogs in a safe manner to reduce the risk of bite injuries.

Why Do Dogs Attack?

To some degree, most dog attacks occur when the canine is afraid. The dog may be worried about someone or something encroaching on their space, which can cause them to lash out. When a dog attacks out of fear, it is generally trying to build space between itself and whatever has scared it. Similarly, a dog that is startled may be disoriented or confused enough to attack someone nearby, even an owner or other trusted human. Sleeping canines and dogs that are older with weaker hearing and sight are particularly prone to attacking when alarmed.

A dog that is frustrated or in pain may also be at an increased risk of aggressive behavior. When a dog feels trapped or is overwhelmed by an injury, they may lash out at those around them. If you notice a behavioral shift in your pet, it’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment with your vet and a local trainer to see whether they are dealing with an undiscovered injury or other problem.

What Factors Determine the Severity of a Dog Bite?

Multiple factors influence how severe a dog bite is, both in the moments following an attack and during the years to come. Some of the factors that can influence the severity of an attack are the bite level, victim’s age, level of medical expenses required, permanency of injuries sustained, and emotional trauma.

Bite Level

Dog bites are classified by veterinarians as animal behaviors, meaning a dog that reaches specific levels of aggression is at risk for committing harmful attacks in the future. The different levels of bites are:

  • Pre-Bite: The dog is aggressive and may bite at the air but does not contact human skin.
  • Near Bite: A dog contacts human skin with their teeth but does not puncture the victim’s flesh.
  • Shallow Puncture: A bite punctures the skin, but only the shallow layers of tissue. A shallow puncture may nonetheless be painful, and the victim is still at risk of rabies or other infectious diseases.
  • Multiple Shallow Punctures: A victim is bitten more than once, but the wounds are not deep.
  • Deep Puncture: The dog bite inflicts serious harm upon the victim, who will likely require at least one surgery to recover fully from the attack.
  • Death: When a dog consumes a victim’s flesh or inflicts a fatal bite, they have reached the highest attack level.

The Victim’s Age

A victim’s age plays an important role in calculating the severity of a dog bite. A bite that would not inflict lasting harm upon an adult may be fatal to a small child. A study done by the National Library of Medicine found that, among bite victims younger than eighteen years old who were bitten in the face, the majority were five years of age or younger. Children struggle to accurately gauge a dog’s mood and demeanor and are oftentimes attacked when they are unable to heed common warning behaviors. Additionally, a young victim may suffer emotional trauma or disfigurement in a dog attack.

Medical Expenses Required

A minor dog bite that doesn’t break the skin will most likely require very little medical attention, if any. However, a severe bite can require multiple surgeries for the victim to fully recover and resume their lifestyle. A dog attack that results in numerous bites may require multiple operations to keep the patient healthy and prevent the risk of infection. Depending on the state in which the attack occurred, the dog’s owner may be held liable for the incident under “strict liability” or “negligence” personal injury laws. Existing and future medical bills may be included in a settlement or verdict in favor of the victim.

Permanency of a Bite Injury

A minor dog bite may cause very little lasting harm, though any attack can be incredibly traumatizing for the victim and their loved ones. However, a more serious attack can cause involuntary amputations (particularly upon fingers and toes), permanent disfigurement, or force the victim to undergo multiple plastic surgeries to restore their appearance following a bite.

Emotional Trauma

Emotional trauma is an often-overlooked component of a dog attack. While it’s not a guarantee that everyone who is bitten will be fearful of dogs moving forwards or suffering from psychological effects, many victims will. Some of the emotional impacts of a dog attack can include a fear of animals, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), difficulty working, or a reduced quality of life. Depending on these factors, a dog attack may be more severe than the victim’s physical injuries otherwise indicate.

Protect Yourself by Exercising Caution Around Dogs

Under the exact right circumstances, any dog can be provoked to bite – even the beloved family pet. By staying aware of behavioral warning signs and teaching young children to respect the space of dogs and other animals, you can reduce the risk of being bitten.

Wisconsin’s Unique Dog Bite Law

We like to think that our furry friends would never hurt a fly, but unfortunately dog bites do happen. More specifically, millions of dog bites occur every year in the United States. Each state differs slightly in how they legally address dog bites, and Wisconsin in particular has a fairly unique provision. Let’s first review some of these laws.

Strict Liability

Many states follow the rule of strict liability. This means that dog owners are always liable if their dog bites someone, as long as the victim was not breaking the law, trespassing, or provoking the dog. The strict liability rule applies even if there was nothing that the owner could have done to stop the dog.

This law still varies slightly from state to state. Some states only apply strict liability to incidents on public property, while others only apply it to injured federal workers. Wisconsin follows the normal strict liability law with no exceptions.

One Bite Rule

The “one bite rule” essentially means that each dog gets one free bite before the owner gets in trouble. The thought behind this law is that most owners have no way of knowing that their dog might be dangerous, so they should not be held liable unless they become aware of this knowledge and continue to let it happen.

This law is not currently followed as strictly as it’s described above. These days, if a dog owner has a dangerous breed or otherwise knows their dog could potentially be prone to biting at the moment, they may still be held liable under the one bite rule. It’s very similar to negligence laws in personal injury cases – you have a duty to reasonably protect those around you if you can. In the case of dog bites, that means warning those around you if your dog is aggressive.

So What’s Different in Wisconsin? 

Wisconsin follows the strict liability law, with some specific stipulations for damages. The dog owner is liable for the first bite if they were not aware of the dog’s potential danger, and must pay a fine between $50-2,500 if necessary to cover injuries or property damage. If the owner did know of potential danger and didn’t provide adequate warning, the fine range increases to $200-5,000. This doesn’t just apply to injured humans and damaged property, but also domestic animal injuries, deer injuries, or injuries to game birds and their eggs.

Where Wisconsin law differs significantly from other states is in how much compensation can be recovered. According to injury attorneys Cannon & Dunphy, Wisconsin dog owners are actually required to pay twice the amount of compensation that is owed in the dog bite case. This means that the amount of damages determined to be paid to the injured party will get doubled. This only applies if the dog bite was forceful enough to break skin and cause permanent damage AND the owner was aware that the dog had previously bit someone.

These dog bite laws, in both Wisconsin and the rest of the country, are meant to encourage dog owners to be responsible. If you keep others safe from your dog, you don’t need to worry about the consequences of a bite.

How To Get Your Dog Ready For Riding in the Car

Car rides can be an anxious experience for your pup, or they can be enjoyable! At some point your dog will have to take a trip in the car so it’s important to properly prepare them for this and to do it in a way that will decrease their anxiety and increase positive associations with road trips. 

Starting Out Young

Like training and socialization, it’s important to familiarize your dog with riding in the car at a young age. To begin, let your pup explore your vehicle and get accustomed to it while it is off and parked. Let your pup sniff around, sit in the seats, and get used to any harness devices you may use in the car. You can even bring your dog’s favorite toy or treats in the car to ensure it’s a positive experience. 

Next, repeat this but with the car turned on. Allow your dog to get used to the noise of the engine and even the radio.

Short and Frequent Road Trips

Once your pup is accustomed to your car when it’s in park, start by taking short and frequent trips. This could be just driving down the block and back. It’s also important to drive at a slow speed. Not only is this safe but hopefully this helps avoid any car sickness your dog may have. Taking weekly trips is also a great idea.

Another important tip is to take your dog to enjoyable places, not just to the vet. Visit friends, go to the park, or even the pet store to get a treat or new toy. This will ensure your pup creates a positive association with riding in the car, not just unpleasant memories of going to the vet. 

Safety Tips

An essential and vital part of getting your dog ready for riding in the car is making sure they are secure and safe in your vehicle. Just like we can suffer injuries in a car crash, so can our pets. You can purchase specially designed car harnesses and doggy seatbelts for your furry friend. It’s also advised that your dog rides in the backseat to minimize distractions. According to the accident attorneys at Haug, Farrar & Franco, PLLC, checking on pets in the car is considered a form of distracted driving, and could prove fatal if a collision occurs. Some other safety precautions you should take include ensuring your dog isn’t riding in direct sunlight and bringing food, water, and a leash on your trip.

Another important thing to mention is never leave your dog alone in the car. In the summer, temperatures can quickly reach fatal levels and in the winter your dog could suffer hypothermia if left alone in your vehicle.

Properly preparing your dog for riding in the car is important to do in order to decrease anxiety and fear and create positive memories and associations with car rides. Make sure to start familiarizing your dog with car trips early on and be consistent with taking them on short and frequent rides. Further, make sure that you take the necessary safety precautions so that your dog is properly secured in your car and so that you are prepared for any type of emergency.