Court case graphic reminder of pet owners' responsibility

Posted: Monday, April 01, 2002

Convictions for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter recently in a highly publicized trial in California serve as a timely reminder that pet owners have a legal responsibility to protect others from their animals. The results of that trial also should serve as a reminder that pet owners have a duty not just to their animals' potential victims but to the animals themselves.

The threat that pets can pose to people isn't confined to the fatal mauling that was the focus of that high-profile trial. Pets also pose a threat to people when they run loose in the street, creating a traffic hazard that can cause accidents when vehicles swerve to avoid hitting them. ...

Many pet owners in urban -- and suburban -- areas seem unaware that times have changed since they were kids. Nostalgia for the good old days when dogs could roam at will around -- and beyond -- neighborhoods tends to obscure the grim risks that such old-fashioned freedom for pets now incurs. ...

Having a pet can be a wonderful experience, but only if commonsense obligations are fulfilled. That means making sure your pet isn't in a position to hurt anybody -- and making sure your pet isn't in a position to be hurt.

-- The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

March 23

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