I appreciate that you love your dog, but I'm troubled that it has attacked someone more than once. You should not take the dog into demonstration situations around children--or anyone--since you know he attacks people. Be aware that if something were to happen in those situations, you could be in a lot of trouble, and your dog could be put down.
California Code - Section 3342 - states that you are civilly liable for your dog biting someone who is in a public place (as the woman was from your description). This is a strict liability offense: it doesn't matter whether you were negligent in keeping the dog contained. The woman can sue you for her injuries just because she was bitten in a public place (and she should be able to do so).
She can also attempt to have your dog declared vicious. If you have a vicious dog, you may be prohibited from having dogs for a certain period, and even go to jail for violating that restriction. If she files criminal charges, get a criminal defense attorney immediately. This is a criminal law issue.
If your dog routinely escapes, it can be declared a nuisance, and you can be prohibited from keeping it.
You can also be criminally liable under state law if your dog kills or severely injures someone, especially since you know the dog has both attacked someone (twice) and can escape from the enclosure.
The particular city in which you live may also have ordinances regulating dangerous dogs, and there are animal control regulations that may apply. You should call a local attorney who deals with dog bite cases to ask how they’re handled, as well as calling the local animal control to ask about the local regulations.
Sorry for the bad news, but the bottom line is that your dog is going to be considered dangerous—and rightly so—for having attacked two people. You need to make sure the dog is contained, such as a harness secured with a tie-down. If the dog escapes and hurts someone, you will be liable. You might even look into homes/shelters for dangerous dogs, where the dog might be able to live away from people.
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Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Ohio only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.
I agree with the excellent response provided by Mr. Eadie. You are excusing your dog for vicious behavior and blaming some lady for riding her bike in public.
I appreciate that you love your dog. The first time he bit her, you acted appropriately. You built a fence, and tried to make sure it did not happen again. Well, it did. Now, you need to act more proactively. You need to shore up the fence, get a large shaded cage for your dog, or keep him in the house while you are gone, etc.
It is unlikely you will be criminally prosecuted (although I cannot say what a DA might do), however, the "Dog Court" people may order your dog put down. To try and minimize that possibllity, you need to assure them it will never, ever happen again. A cage, better fence, etc., might be the key. Also, your dog may need regualar exercise, etc.
If you have howeowners or renters insurance, you should contact them and put them on notice of a likely claim.
Chico Injury Lawyer
Disclaimer: The above was not legal advice and cannot be relied on. For informational pursposes only. Time is of the essence, do not delay seeking legal advice.
I disagree with my colleagues that your dog is dangerous. It sounds to me like you have not properly conditioned him to bikes. It is not the responsibility of others to walk their bikes past your property because you have not trained your dog to accept bikes. You also need to do a much better job of keeping him contained.
You may or may not get sued. Have you spoken to your homeowners insurance agent? Will they agree to pay any expenses associated with the bites? If they will, then you may not get sued. If they won't, you probably will be sued. you should speak with a local attorney for further guidance.
You have done the right thing by offering your homeowner's insurance information to the bicyclist. You also need to report this incident to your homeowner's insurance carrier. Failure to report the incident may jeopardize your coverage should this woman sue you at a later date. You should check the wording of your homeowner's insurance policy and see whether or not you have Medical Payments coverage and whether or not it would apply in this particular type of situation. You also should assess how or why your dog got loose and was able to attack the bicyclist.
Your dog does not appear safe to be around schoolchildren. Has your dog been certified as a therapy dog? If not, I suggest you enroll your dog in the appropriate training and discontinue school visits until such time as your dog is certified. I suggest you discuss these attack incidences with the dog trainer and be sure that these type of bike incidences are addressed in your therapy dog training.
Legal Disclaimer :
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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