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Can pet owners be liable when hit by car?

February 22nd, 2012, 06:56 AM
Hi All,

My wife and I have run into a disturbing situation. I will explain, but let's not dwell as much on the explanation as the thread can go way off course. Instead, let's discuss the question I ask at the end.

First off, for some reason where I live there are so many people who just do not care about their pets. (Dogs mostly) There are dogs running loose all over the place, on the road, in your yard, it's just terrible. I've seen animals get hit so many times it breaks my heart.

My wife and I have been together a few years and have recently gotten our first pet. We have a cat and we love her dearly. We both have very strong feelings about how the other people treat their pets, but there isn't much we can do. If we bring it up with someone, it just makes them angry and I've written letters to the village offices with no response.

Here's where the problem starts to touch us a little too closely. My wife babysits children for a family a few houses up the road. She just started with this family last week. The family has a large dog that is completely and utterly out-of-control. It will jump in cars, jump on people, take food from the kids, it just does what it pleases. It is not a mean dog at all, it just seems that the owners have not put even the slightest effort into training it.

The wife of the family hates the dog and wishes it will go away. The Husband cares about the dog, just doesn't bother to train it. The husband is currently the only person the dog will listen to.

When my wife goes to get the child in the morning, this is how it goes: She arrives and gets the older kid ready for school. The mother of the family leaves for work and the husband is sleeping. (He works nights) My wife sends off the older child then takes home the younger child until the mother gets home from work.

So while my wife waits for the older one to get on the bus, she is at their house pretty much alone. During this time, their dog causes absolute chaos. They had the dog outside and free. The dog would jump in our car while my wife is strapping in the younger child, jumps on the kids, running everywhere, even jumped on the bus when the older one boarded and my wife had to go drag this large, uncooperative dog off the school bus.

So, we brought it up with them because she shouldn't have to deal with this crazy dog. We are not going to bring up the subject of pet care with them because I'm sure it will cause problems if we do.

For us, the situation is resolved as they now put the dog in it's kennel when my wife is picking up the kids, but here comes the reason for me making this thread:

During the chaos, the mother of the family told my wife not to bother with the dog, it's not her responsibility and that she would be happy if the dog would get hit by a car because she hates it. (I forgot to mention there is a lumber mill up the road and transports are constantly flying by) The husband is the one who would be upset if the dog gets hit, but he sleeps until the afternoon and usually leaves the dog outside so he can sleep.

So, lets say this dog runs out on the road and gets hit. It's large enough to cause a lot of damage to a car. It occurs to me, why are the owners not more liable in situations like this. I mean ok the lady doesn't care about the dog and figures a car might take care of her problem. (Yes, that's terrible, but there's lots out there like this) From the driver's point of view, aside from the fact that it can be traumatizing to hit an animal, why do they have to get stuck paying the repair bill when it's the animal owner's fault? It just seems wrong, because it's enevitably going to happen sooner or later and I feel bad for the unlucky driver that gets stuck in this situation.

Perhaps this thread is more of a vent channel for me, but I had to get it out. I wish people would either take care of their pets properly, or simply not get a pet.


February 22nd, 2012, 09:11 AM
Absolutintootly the dog owners can be charged. They could face massive charges if the dog causes an accident resulting in injury or death. A year or so ago we discussed on this forum a case dealing with this very same thing. The dog was loose, got hit, was killed but the insurance company of the car that hit it filed for damages. I'll see if I can find that.

It doesn't hve to be a car accident, any injury, a scratch, and they could be held responsible.

I personally know of a similar situation where the dog, a GSD, was known to chase cars, allowed to chase cars, got hit and killed and there was much damage to the small car which the dog owner, to his shock, had to pay for. Some good did come of this as that person no longer owns dogs. I remember when the previous dog got quite old and ill and the man was too cheap to take it to the Vet, he was going to take it to the dump and shoot it. My OH worked with this man and everyone he knew persuaded him he should go to the Vet and he did, in the end. Sad pun.

February 24th, 2012, 10:05 PM
I feel so bad for that poor doggie I really do. Poor baby. I will never understand people like that woman who wants the dog to get hit. I could never be married to someone like that. Maybe knowing that it would bring legal consequences will stop her wish for the dog to get hurt by a car.

February 26th, 2012, 07:43 PM
I knew of a family once in a similar situation like this. The husband wanted a dog, but the wife really didn't like dogs, and was actually quite scared of them. She had said no several times to a dog. So what does the husband do but show up home one day with a dog. And what do you know, the dog was out of control. It was eventually re-homed.

This is a bad situation all round. And I'd say it runs a bit deeper than the dog issue. In a marriage, no one should be bringing home a big anything without discussing it with their partner and coming to an agreement. Obviously that's a bit more complicated when someone enters a relationship with a dog already in the picture. And everyone pays for it, especially the dog.

February 27th, 2012, 07:27 AM
If you have a leash bylaw and the dog is not on the leash, causes an accident and then caused injury to the person or damage to the vehicle then yes the dog's owner is at fault and can be sued or fined.