There are movies and actual stories of escaped animals from zoos that are found roaming in the city park, on a freeway, or digging into in someone’s trash can. And then there are the rare events when someone who keeps a wild animal on his property forgets to lock the cage and the animal goes exploring. In Franklin, Massachusetts, a town located 26 miles south of Boston, a wild emu, an animal not native to America, was sighted at the side of a road and reportedly terrorizing drivers. News reports of the flightless bird, which must have been as bewildered as the drivers, did not exactly describe what the “terror” was that so alarmed motorists but emus are not small animals. Adults are over 5 feet in length and can weigh close to 90 pounds. They are known to be aggressive and can cause serious injury if you disturb it.
Dogs are wonderful companions and offer many emotional benefits to its owners. But Rover is also an animal that if provoked, abused, or otherwise felt threatened, can attack anyone it feels is endangering their welfare or invading their territory.
In Massachusetts the wild turkey population is out of control. Sure, it’s sometimes delightful to see wild turkeys, especially this time of year, in suburban, and even some urban places. But what about if they cause someone to swerve off the road and cause a motor vehicle accident?
During these days of partisan bickering and entrenched ideological positions that rarely sees cooperation in passing any kind of legislation, it is refreshing to report on a bipartisan bill that benefits some members of our community. In late August, Governor Baker signed a bill strongly supported by members of both major parties that offers protection to canines who are being treated inhumanely.
In August 2014, an 18-month old Massachusetts boy was sent to the hospital after being attacked by the family dog while they were staying in Florida. Reports state that he suffered “significant facial wounds” and the dog in question had not before shown aggressive behavior towards the boy. Summer is a great time to be outside, take walks, spend time in the yard, and generally enjoy the weather. Dogs are often times not excluded when it comes to this; they can appreciate those simple joys as much as their owners can. However, this could mean that there is a higher risk for dog bites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Read more
The Massachusetts dog bite law is clear. An owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages created by the dog. Whether it is to someone else’s property, or for personal injury. There are the defenses of trespass and torment. That is, if you trespass on the owner’s property where the dog is, or torment the dog, and the owner can prove this, it is a defense to strict liability. Read more
Lynn City Council’s office maybe following in Boston’s footsteps as the Massachusetts city considers an ordinance requiring all pit bulls in Lynn be muzzled while they’re out in the street on a leash. “Dog bite injuries can be very serious,” notes Boston attorney Neil Burns of the Law Office of Neil Burns, “cities should take steps they feel are appropriate in order to protect people from dog bite injuries and attacks.”
Boston and Massachusetts homeowners who also own dogs must disclose the fact that they own dogs to their homeowner’s insurance company. “This is so important.” says Boston injury attorney Neil Burns, who has represented many Boston residents with dog bite injuries, “if your dog bites someone, your homeowner’s insurance may only offer coverage if you have previously informed them that you own a dog.”
Massachusetts residents enjoy significant legal protection from vicious dog owners. In Boston, we have been representing victims of dog and other animal bite injuries in Boston, and throughout Massachusetts, since 1985. Each case is different, however, we have drafted this column for general reference for our clients.
The following is the full statute regarding the law in this matter: