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Hail Cesar!

I think my two year old is absolutely adorable. Each morning, we share breakfast and a cup of coffee together. He has his own special breakfast, but always stares longingly at mine. After breakfast, we high-five each other and I go about my day and he goes about his. At night, we usually curl up together on the couch and he eventually falls asleep with his head in my lap.

But, while he is adorable, he is also a handful and quite frankly just a plain old jerk sometimes. He makes other peoples’ two year olds cry and run away. He is loud and unruly, and he makes other people scream with fright and run for the hills as if he were one of the Children of the Corn. So, to control his aberrant behavior my wife and I decided to enroll him in a basic manners class before he caused so much trouble he got us sued. Imagine our dismay when the owner of said class emailed me one day and said that our particular two year old was too much of a handful for the basic manners class. He wasn’t welcome there and instead would have to go to a “special” class.
At this point, I think it’s probably important to mention that my two year old isn’t what you might think him to be. Did you know that he’s actually a dog? A German Shepard to be exact. So, my wife, myself, and Brody went through four weeks of intensive Feisty Fido classes and now my two year old is (slightly) less feisty. My wife and I were also comforted to know that Brody truly is not the worst behaved dog in the City of Raleigh.
Many people, especially those with puppies like mine, often wonder if they will be on the hook for someone’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering should their feisty Fido get a little too feisty with somebody’s hand or leg or other appendage. The answer to those queries is very lawyerly: it depends. There are a wide variety of specific state and local laws that govern domestic animals such as dogs.
Generally, North Carolina as a whole follows the same rule of law for domestic animals that most other jurisdictions follow. That is, the owner of a domestic animal (dog) will be liable for injuries caused by that animal if the owner knew or should know of the animal’s vicious propensities (i.e., it has bitten someone before and/or snarls at anybody who comes within a few feet of it). In addition, North Carolina provides by statute that the owner of a dog will be strictly liable (no fault needed) for injuries or property damage inflicted by a “dangerous dog.” The term dangerous dog has a very specific meaning set out in the statute, which you can find here.
Most dogs bark and act “aggressive” because they are afraid and/or they’re just overly excited. And certain breeds can certainly be more intimidating than others. For example, while I see a cute and cuddly puppy who wants to play, you may see a jumping, barking, and lunging German Shepard. The same type of dog that police use to catch and bite criminals. Owners of dogs can avoid potential legal issues by exercising reasonable care, common sense and courtesy, and taking the necessary steps to properly train their dog. This, we have discovered, takes quite a bit of patience and practice.
But, there are some dogs that are owned by people who are not as responsible as my wife and I. Their dogs do not resemble anything that Cesar Millan has trained. More likely, their dog resembles something Michael Vick has trained. This is very unfortunate for the animal and it’s unfortunately a large problem in certain areas. If you have found yourself confronted and injured by a dog like this, then consider consulting with an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights.
Disclaimer: The author’s views are his own. This blog post is not intended to convey specific legal advice upon anyone. The author’s dog, Brody, has never attacked anyone. It is a track record the author is proud of. The author’s dog loves to watch old Rin Tin Tin movies and loves police officers. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee that this trend will continue should you try to break into the author’s humble abode. The author thinks Cesar Millan is a god-like person who deserves some type of Nobel award. Cesar Millan, the author believes, does not live in North Carolina, but the author used a company that is equally as good and recommends it to anybody. The author has attached pictures of his dog to show off said dog as he has no actual children. The author understands that displaying pictures to anybody who will look is the appropriate dorky parent thing to do.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Your Most Faithful Reader April 5, 2010, 2:53 pm

    This blog may come in handy for me so I know my rights if your "cute & cuddly" puppy has already forgotten what he learned in Feisty Fido class and wants to "play" (i.e., jump, lunge & bark)next time he sees me.

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