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Can businesses be held liable for dog attacks?

Readers may have heard of or seen the television series, “The Dog Whisperer” in which professional dog trainer Cesar Milan helps distressed dog owners get their canines under control. Milan, as the series makes plain, has a pretty good track record with training, retraining and socializing dogs.

Milan’s reputation may be on the line, though, with the recent filing of a lawsuit by a customer of Milan who claims she was attacked her pit bull only six days after the dog was freed from the trainer’s Dog Psychology Center. The woman claims to have suffered tendon and muscle lacerations and lost sensation and use of her left hand because of the attack. Her complaint alleges that Milan and the center were negligent in prematurely releasing the animal.

According to the complaint, the center released the animal before the recommended time when its owner was unable to continue making payments. For its part, the center claims that Cesar Milan never actually trained or had contact with the animal, and that the owner pulled the dog from the center despite warnings against doing so, and returned the animal to be quarantined after the attack.

We’ve previously written on this blog about the differences between recovering for dog attacks based on strict liability and negligence.  In cases where a business is responsible for the care of a dangerous animal, they have a duty to ensure they are reasonable in looking to the safety of customers. Failure to provide adequate warnings and set up policies protecting customers could be considered negligence, depending on the circumstances.

Those who have been harmed because of a businesses’ failure of reasonable care in the handling of a dangerous pet may be able to recover from injuries resulting from that negligence, but it is important to work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest case possible. 

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