In an effort to prevent this from ever happening again, dog experts and trainers and the like have been addressing this topic a lot lately. I would like to relay some of their input to those of you who do spend time around dogs.
It seems most people think of their pets as family and that is completely understandable considering they give us unconditional love and companionship. It is also easy to get comfortable in a routine with your pet especially if you have had the animal for a long time. But, according to the experts, we need to remember that dogs are animals, not pseudo-people. As such, they will behave like animals. Yes, statistically there are dogs that show more aggression than others but the fact is that any dog can be dangerous. Experts advice is to never leave a child alone or unsupervised around a dog regardless of how well behaved you believe the animal to be. Children under 5 are even more at risk due to their unpredictable behavior and fearful reactions which can trigger predatory aggression in dogs. Experts also advise education is key for people and animals. Teach your children how to interact with animals and how to read the animal’s body language and make sure your dog receives the appropriate training. A couple more good tips are when buying a dog or any pet, make sure to choose the right animal for you and your family, and, never forget good old common sense.
In Arizona, there are very specific laws when a dog bites or attacks someone. By statute, the owner of the dog will be held strictly liable for the injuries and damages sustained by the victim. The only defenses are trespassing (the victim had no right to be on the premises), or provocation (the victim provoked the animal). Typically, homeowners insurance will pay for these types of claims. (These laws will not help this poor Mesa family, as the dog was their own, and harmed a resident in their same household.)
Dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, and quite often that is true. However, there are a number of breeds that have been proven over time to show harmful tendencies, and thus, people need to make sure that “Fido” is an appropriate pet for the given circumstance. The adverse results, as we have seen here, can be catastrophic and irreversible. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to these people.