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When dogs bite strangers

March 4th, 2005, 09:29 PM
I didnt want to hijack the thread regarding the dog who bit the vet... but it brought to mind an incident that occurred several months ago, and caused a family disagreement regarding animal/ human culpability when dogs bite. I wonder your thoughts on this topic?

My sisters boyfriend was bitten in the vets office when he attempted to pat a dog who was standing leashed at the front counter with his owner. He said he asked the owner if the dog ( a Rottie-Lab type cross) was friendly. The young man responded.. "sometimes'. He asked if he could pat the dog, and the man replied..."if you want to". Touching the dog's head was ok, but when he touched his ears, he suddenly bit. :(
I felt that serious judgement errors were made by both men, and the combination caused this unfortunate event.
The owners response was too vague, perhaps unintentionally misleading.
"Sometimes" mean "not always" friendly. If this was so,. he should have said NO, dont touch him - he is unpredictable. ( if he was)
On the other hand, I felt my sisters bf was also partly to blame for trying to pat a dog that he didnt know - and that may have been stressed and/or in pain. Dog 's at the vets are all there for some reason to do with their health, generally. How did he know that the dog wasnt at the vet FOR his ears?
Surely its one of the worst places to try to "make friends" with a dog.

The dogs owner appeared shocked, apologized briefly- then quickly left.
The boyfriend went to have his hand stitched., but was understandably upset about this. He claimed and still claims that the dog's owner was totally responsible for having this dog in a public place unmuzzled if it was "that" likely to bite just from being touched.
Do you agree with this ?

March 4th, 2005, 09:37 PM
Legally -- COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE! Well, at least in québec!

according to article 1466 of the Civil Code, the owner of an animal is responsible for all that the animal does, even if the animal has run away from home!! The only way to be exempt from this, is to prove that the other person purposely teased the animal.

Whether a dog has the habit of being a bitter or not doesn't really matter (if the owner expressely says not to touch the dog, his responsability can be DIMISHED) Even a dog that has a sweet temper, and has NEVER bitten anyone, if this dog turns around and bites someone, the owner is responsible...even if it was totally unpredictable.

So basically, whether an owner makes a mistake in jugement or not, he's responsable. Even if he hasn't done anything wrong!

March 4th, 2005, 09:40 PM
First off, if I asked someone about their dog being friendly and they said sometimes, I would not be touching any part of it.He claimed and still claims that the dog's owner was totally responsible for having this dog in a public place unmuzzled if it was "that" likely to bite just from being touched. I don't think the dog needed to be muzzled but I think when you know your dog may sometimes be friendly, meaning sometimes not, I wouldn't let anyone touch him. And warn someone before they even ask.
This seems like one of those bites that definitely could've been prevented. Owner shouldn't have been so vague and brother should've seen a red flag when he heard the word "sometimes".
Jmo though.

March 4th, 2005, 09:56 PM
Personally I think the blame lies with both of them, but in my opinion more so on your sister's boyfriend.. because... he asked if the dog would bite.. even though the man's answer was not all that clear, it should have been enough to not touch the dog. I agree with what you said.. perhaps the dog was a t the vet due to his ears.. he did not know that, but at the same time a lot of dogs are sensative to their ears, especially when they have mites. I think if you don't know the person or the dog and YOU touch it and get bit, that it is your fault. I don't blame the dog, the owner was a bit irresponsible yes, but so was your sister's bf, unless he's about 12 yrs old and didn't know better. :rolleyes: That's just my opinion though..

March 4th, 2005, 09:58 PM
It's a tough call.

The owner should have definitely been more clear and is responsible for his dog's behaviour. He knows the dog, therefore he should set the limits. It's only fair to the dog, and those who approach it. Sadly it's the poor dog who will pay for flippant comments like those he made.

Having said that, why would anyone approach a strange dog at the VETS of all places.?? When we see cats and other critters arriving in cages, no one is silly enough to stick their fingers between the bars, so why would we approach a dog in the same milieu, minus the cage?

I don't think that he deserved to be bitten, far from it, but I think(hope) lessons were learned all around.

March 6th, 2005, 09:07 AM
Maybe the dog thought he was the vet :D

March 6th, 2005, 09:45 AM
Mostly owners fault IMO. He obviously knew his dog was only “sometimes friendly”, that there is a potential for bite and still said to go ahead and pet his dog. Its his responsibility to prevent his dog from biting anyone.
Bf is at fault for trying to pet the dog owner said is not always friendly. What happened to common sense there?

March 6th, 2005, 09:50 AM
There are almost always dogs at the vets when I go there - and I would NEVER think of petting any of them. Oh I'd like to but these are dogs who are at a vet's office and while they MAY be getting their vaccines and are not ill, some of them surely are. Plus, it is strange place for them and they may associate with bad things. So I never do it.

This is my long way of saying they were both wrong. The owner should have been less ambivant and informed the fellow not to pet the dog and the other guy should just not have pet the dog.

They are both wrong. Legally, the owner is nut heaven knows how a civil court would regard it.

Lucky Rescue
March 6th, 2005, 09:57 AM
There are almost always dogs at the vets when I go there - and I would NEVER think of petting any of them

Me either, unless a dog comes up soliciting pets. Otherwise I keep my hands to myself.

Anyone who would still want to touch a dog after a warning, no matter how vague, is asking for trouble.

Having said that, a person who knows his dog may bite is obligated to keep both dog and other people safe!