In a Texas case decision from Collin County, Texas, a court was asked to decide whether a homeowner should be liable for the actions of his puppy, who got out of his backyard resulting in a passerby falling and injuring his shoulder.
"To recover on such a claim, a plaintiff must prove: (1) the defendant was the owner or possessor of an animal; (2) the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others; (3) the defendant breached that duty; and (4) the defendant’s breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury." The other option is a strict liability claim, which requires the plaintiff to prove that the animal was vicious or dangerous.
In this case, the puppy was locked inside the home, but escaped into the backyard when the homeowner opened the door. The homeowner did not know a third party left the gate open and did not know someone was walking by the front of the home on uneven ground that contributed to the fall. It was undisputed that the puppy was not aggressive and did not contact the plaintiff. The court held that there was no proof that the homeowner would reasonably anticipate the incident that occurred. For that reason, it affirmed summary judgment for the homeowner.
Read the opinion by clicking here.
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