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Fall 2017  Volume 13, Number 3        

What Is a “Bite”?

Sometimes legal disputes arise over what exactly constitutes a “dog bite.” If the laws of the community where the bite occurred do not specifically define “bite,” courts generally hold that the dictionary definition applies. Webster’s Dictionary defines “bite” as: “To cut, tear, or grip with or as if with the teeth.”

Some jurisdictions have laws that define the word more restrictively. These jurisdictions would not consider a dog grasping a person’s body with its mouth to be a bite unless it tears or punctures the skin.

Dog owners can take certain actions that will reduce the likelihood of dog bites and protect their assets from liability:

  • Select your pet dog carefully. Certain breeds are unsuited to living with small children; individual dogs of any breed can exhibit “fear aggression.” If in doubt about a certain dog, consult with your veterinarian or a professional trainer before adopting it.
  • License your dog and become familiar with local leash laws and other relevant laws.
  • Fence your yard.
  • Socialize your dog. Feeling threatened can cause aggressive behavior. A pet dog that is used to dealing with other people, animals and unfamiliar situations will feel more comfortable in strange situations.
  • Train your dog. Working on basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay” and “come,” can build trust and a bond between you and your dog, and give you more control over your dog’s behavior.
  • Treat your dog with kindness and care. A pet that’s well-fed and cared for will be more trusting and less likely to act aggressively.
  • Never leave babies or small children alone with a dog.
  • Neuter your pet. The Humane Society of the United States says “Spayed or neutered dogs are much less likely to bite.” They are also less likely to roam and fight with other dogs.

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In this issue:

This Just In...

Five Practical Tips for Buying the Right Car Insurance at the Right Price

Protecting Your Family from Dog Bite Liability

Do You Know What’s REALLY in Your Homeowners Policy?

What Is a “Bite”?



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