For nearly 50 years, Loudoun County’s animal adoption policy prohibited pit bull terriers from being adopted directly from the Loudoun County Animal Services (LCAS). Instead, the dogs were transferred to another agency and sent out for adoption. Recently the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved a change to the policy such that, effective immediately, pit bull terriers can be adopted directly from the animal shelter in Loudoun County.
Having worked with clients who have been victims of mauling attacks, however, Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau cautions current and potential dog owners who are considering adopting this or any other aggressive breed of dog.
Dog Owners Held Responsible for Damages Inflicted by Dog Attacks
Landau notes that, for example, in New Jersey (NJ), the state’s strict liability rule holds dog owners responsible for damages inflicted upon a bite victim, regardless of the dog’s past behavior. Furthermore, a person is considered to be lawfully on the dog owner’s property “in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of [NJ] or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.” (Source: NJ Statute 4:19-16)
This means if a postal service employee, Fed Ex delivery person, visiting friend, family member, child, etc. is bitten by a dog on the owner’s property — even if the dog has never before displayed aggressive behavior — the dog owner is held responsible.
“I think all states should adopt New Jersey’s strict liability rule,” states Landau. “Like an automatic weapon, a large dog can cause harm to innocent victims. Dog owners who choose a big, strong, aggressive breed as a pet should be held responsible for the dog’s actions.”