Texas parents must be ever vigilant when it comes to the many risks that everyday encounters can pose for their young children. With pet ownership being so prevalent in Texas and across the country, children naturally grow up alongside a family dog or dogs in the neighborhood.
Dogs are wonderful companions, trusted friends and loyal protectors of the home and their owners. But while training can control an animal’s instincts, when something happens that triggers their survival instincts, the results can be serious.
Sadly, it is children and the elderly who are most at risk in a dog-bite attack. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 4.5 million people are the victims of dog-bite attacks each year, and Texas is one of the top ten states for such incidents. When an attack results in death, 45.9% of the time the victim is under the age of 16.
The one-bite rule in Texas
At one time, the common law theory, called the one-bite rule, guided U.S. courts when it came to animal attacks. This approach placed liability on the dog owner only if they had known about the dog’s aggressive behavior before an attack, so the burden of proving liability lay with the injured party.
Texas courts still follow the one-bite rule, however, judicial precedent does guide strict liability in a dog bite attack. If the dog owner knew that their dog was aggressive or if the animal has attacked before, the injured party may sue them for damages on the grounds of negligence.
Although Texas does not have laws for civil liability in dog attacks, it does have criminal negligence laws in place that hold dog owners accountable for the harm caused by a dangerous dog. It can make sense to get more information on the best way to proceed with recovering compensation after an attack.
Prevention is key
It is important to teach children when approaching an animal is not a good idea, and how to avoid risky situations, such as:
- When the owner is not present
- If the dog is behind a fence
- If the dog is close to its owner, is sleeping, or eating
- If the dog is growling or barking
According to the AVMA, there are a number of actions that a responsible dog owner can also take to prevent a dog attack. Socializing the animal from a young age, always keeping the animal on a leash when in public, giving it regular exercise and attention, and training the animal are all part of responsible pet ownership.