Who Is to Blame? Is the Dog Owner or Walker Responsible?

Owning a dog is a big responsibility.  Aside from veterinarian visits, training to do its business outside, finding the right dog food, and replacing your chewed up slippers, there are many laws regarding a dog’s behavior every owner needs to know about.  This is especially true of anyone who leaves their dog in someone else’s care, in the event that the dog causes trouble or harm.

Pennsylvania Dog Law – The Basics

  • All dogs three months and older must be licensed
  • Dogs are considered property, and the owner is to be held responsible for the dog’s behaviors and damages incurred
  • Dogs must be controlled in a public area.  Dog owners cannot allow their dog to wander away from them without a means of restraint, such as a leash
  • When the dog is on personal property that is not enclosed, such as a front yard, the dog is not required to be tethered or restrained
    • Many owners will keep their dogs tethered to a yard lead when on personal property that is not enclosed.  However if the dog wanders of the property, regardless of whether or not it is attached to the yard lead, the owner becomes responsible for damage incurred by the dog
  • When engaged in activities where restraints can’t be used, like hunting or performance, the dog has to be kept under reasonable control

While dogs are considered property of the owner, Pennsylvania statute Title 3 P.S. Agriculture § 459-305 reads the following ‘It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to fail to keep at all times the dog in any of the following manners’, followed by the situations mentioned above.  ‘Owner or keeper’.  In other words, if you’re dogsitting or taking someone else’s dog out for a walk you might be held legally responsible for the dog’s behavior.

Determining blame and proper procedure for pursuing legal action is a bit of a murky area in Pennsylvania law.   Further, if a dog does cause harm then its history will also be looked at just as much as the most recent situation.  Pennsylvania law classifies bites as either ‘severe’ or ‘non-severe’, with the animal’s history being the determining factor.
But even then there are other things that the court will require you be able to do, such as prove an animal attacked without provocation or wasn’t acting in self-defense.  If you’ve recently experienced an incident with a canine and you need a Philadelphia-based personal injury lawyer, contact Katz Injury Law right away.  We can be reached by phone, email, or online 24/7.  Our firm has some of the greatest attorneys for personal injury, from animal attacks to car accident lawyers in the Philadelphia area.



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