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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Dogs are not attractive nuisances according to tort law. However, due to tort law reform, dogs are no longer allowed one free bite before the law steps in to prosecute the animal for habitual human chewing.

Animal bites are now a strict liability issue. If it is your dog and it bites, you are liable to the bitee (the lunch that is).

The only discretion the judge has is whether to put the dog to sleep or to move the dog and he chose the latter.

Those who say that dogs are an attractive nuisance or that the bitee assumed the risk of the bite were right under common law. Under modern law, however, they are now wrong.

Dogs are not an attractive nuisance because they have been found to be inherently dangerous and thus it is the owner who is responsible for the dogs actions (kind of a respondeat superior for animals and their owners). As for assumption of the risk, people assume the risk of petting the dog (ie, dog hairs, licks to the face, drool on the clothes and in the mouth, etc.). You cannot assume the risk of being bitten unless you intentionally provoke the dog to bite you (hold a piece of raw meat and taunt the dog).

The courts are very careful to protect the rights and innocense of women (HA!) and children, especially young children. It takes a lot to prove to a court that a child possessed the requisite intent to taunt a dog or that the child was aware of the consequences. It is not like water or fire where children learn very early that fire burns and water stops your breathing. A child can play with a puppy and never learn that the dog will eventually bite (this knowledge comes immediately if the child meets a mean dog, but later if the child only knows nice little puppies).

Therefore, the woman is liable, but the judge, who probably owns a dog, used his discretion to allow the canine to live. If the dog bites again, it will surely die and the judge will come under scrutiny.

Forgive me for I have just written an exam and it takes all of my will power not to go into the constitutional ramifications of why this law is applicable.

I am going now to watch a beer and have a movie, but not in that order or method.


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