Are Illinois Pet Owners Doing Enough to Control Their Vicious Dogs?

Are Illinois Pet Owners Doing Enough to Control Their Vicious Dogs?

Pet owners may not be doing enough to control vicious dogs. Despite laws in place to ensure responsible pet ownership in Illinois, dog attacks remain an all too common occurrence. in 2018, Illinois residents filed 822 claims for dog bites even though only about 31% of households in the state have a dog. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 36% of U.S. households have at least one dog. While canines offer companionship, protection, and other benefits to their owners, man’s best friend sometimes bites, which can leave people with serious physical and emotional injuries.

Holding Pet Owners Liable for Dog Attacks

To recover compensation in dog bite claims, victims must prove the dog attacked them or injured them in some way, that they had a lawful right to be in the place they were at the time the attack occurred, and that they did not provoke the dog in any way before the attack. Additionally, state law holds pet owners financially responsible for injuries suffered as a result of their dogs’ other behaviors that cause injuries. For instance, a dog gets out of its backyard and knocks a neighbor down as it is running down a public sidewalk, causing the neighbor to suffer a broken arm. The dog’s owner may bear liability for the neighbor’s losses, including medical bills and lost wages.

Liability for dog bites can attach to the animal’s actual owner or the person in control of the dog when the attack occurred. For instance, if the dog’s owner left the animal with a pet sitter and the animal attacked, the sitter could be held liable for the injuries.

Strict Liability and Dog Bite Claims

With regard to dog bite claims, Illinois employs the principle of strict liability. Under this rule, pet owners may be held liable, even if they argue they had no awareness of their dogs’ dangerous behaviors or aggressive tendencies. Therefore, the court may find them financially responsible for damages resulting from dog attacks, even if their pets never displayed any previous aggression.

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