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Should certain dog breeds be considered dangerous without proof?

When a person is bit by a dog, the results can vary widely. Some may be nipped and hurt for a moment without any breaching of the skin. Others may become the victim of a dog bite and need hours of surgery to repair the damage that has been done. Owners are often held liable for the damage that has occurred to the person but according to some laws, landlords may also be held liable.

According to reports, about 5 million Americans are the victims of dog bites each year. This means that many in Pennsylvania have been bitten by dogs and some may have held the owners liable for the costs of any medical attention that they received. But some states have laws that have left some owners and landlords unsure of what to do.

Those states have recently deemed certain breeds to be inherently dangerous, without consideration for how the owner has behaved in regards to raising the dog. Many experts say that a dog is not dangerous due to its breed but due to its upbringing-if an owner is violent with the animal, it will likely become a violent dog. Regardless, some states are suggesting that certain aspects of law do not apply because breeds such as the pit bull are legally considered dangerous without a need for proof.

For other breeds, a victim must prove that the animal was dangerous before the bite in order to hold the owner liable. In addition, negligence on the part of the owner can be used to prove liability. Landowners that allow residents to keep animals may also be held liable in such a situation and, since pit bulls are considered dangerous, many landlords are choosing to disallow the breed.

Many groups believe that breed-specific laws should not be held in court because studies and data have reportedly shown that the breed is not the issue.

Source: Washington Post, "Beware of dog liability laws," Benny L. Kass, Oct. 12, 2012

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