Our dog Charlie is a very social dog. He loves going to the dog park and playing with other dogs- and since he is an Airedale Terrier, he weighs in at around 50 pounds, which I say puts him in the average size for the large dog park. On the large size if you take into account that probably about half of the dogs in the large dog park are actually probably supposed to be in the small dog park section, but that’s neither here nor there.
Charlie’s favorite way of playing with other dogs? Well, it might scare you a little bit. But he likes to wrestle with other dogs.
And it’s great to see. The dogs going at it, rolling around… spinning around and throwing their backsides into each other. Emitting little yips and good-natured, non-aggressive, growls…
But sometimes the dogs get so engrossed in their playing, they stop paying attention to the humans around them (were they ever paying attention to the humans around them?) and if the humans aren’t paying attention to them- you can completely see how it wouldn’t be long until a dog runs straight into some unsuspecting human knocking them flat on their…
Butt.. (what did you think I was going to write???)
I had a dog almost knock me down once. It was about four months after I had successfully had a two-level disc fusion in my spine. I was walking very carefully at the dog park. It wasn’t very crowded. I was taking it easy and all of a sudden the dogs came zooming around and I just couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. Neither dog was mine. Lucky for me, I was fine- because my husband grabbed my arm just in time to steady me, but I was scared enough I stayed away from the dog park for months.
I knew another woman that wasn’t so lucky. She was randomly playing with her dog when another dog came running along and blew out her knee. Complete freak thing.
So who is liable and who pays for it?
The park has a sign right when you enter the park that says they are not liable. It says “dog owners are legally and financially liable for injuries or damages caused by their dog(s)”.
Usually people think this only means dog bites. And it does mean dog bites, but as I’ve clearly illustrated- that is not the only injury a dog can cause. Note: it is the most common injury a dog can cause, so stay tuned, I’m going to talk about dog bites in just a minute!
Bottom line- no matter where you are, if you are with the dog, you are responsible for it.
If your dog is running or wrestling and there is someone in the way and they don’t see your dog in time to move…
Too bad! Your dog shouldn’t have ran near them fast enough to injure them. (Now, if you have video footage of someone diving in front of your dog- you may have a case… but barring that…. You are likely liable).
Liability generally means that you have to pony up financial resources to make the situation right. If someone was injured and needs medical treatment, then you are going to need to provide it.
Have homeowners insurance?
If you do, then you likely have liability insurance that will cover some, possibly all of this liability (depending on how much you are judged to be liable), other than your initial deductible. This means that if you get socked with a $50,000 -$100,000 medical bill for some dude’s knee surgery- then you may only be on the hook for a $500 deductible.
Thank you insurance!!!
And by the way, this goes for both in AND out of the dog park!
Your liability will cover you for your pet’s actions. Just make sure that your pet is covered under your policy. Talk to your trusted advisor when purchasing your insurance policy and do an annual review to make sure you update your situation any time you add a pet.
This also counts for dog bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 885,000 Americans are bitten by a pet each year with enough severity to require medical help. 59% of these bites are by non-family owned dogs. In fact, dog bits are the most common liability claim on homeowner’s insurance policies.
Renters insurance also has liability insurance- which is great news for renters who have pets! Unfortunately, over 50% of renters do not have renters insurance. So this is a great reason for renters who own pets to consider the product, which typically costs less than $1/day.