Question: What civil liability can a dog owner have if they do not maintain their dog on a leash and that dog bites someone causing injury?
Answer: It is well-established that the keeper of an animal has a duty to provide for restraining and confinement of that animal. Under our common law, all dogs, regardless of breed or size, are presumed to be harmless, domestic animals. Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is bound to know the natural propensities of dogs, and if these propensities are the kind which reasonably might be expected to cause injury, the owner must use reasonable care to prevent such injuries from occurring. An owner or keeper who fails to exercise such reasonable care may be liable in negligence for the manner of keeping and controlling the dog.
In addition, the keeper of an animal has a duty to provide for the restraining and confinement of that animal and may become liable for damages the animal causes when the keeper is otherwise negligent in the manner of its keeping and control. A keeper is “one who exercises control over an animal on his premises with knowledge of its presence, whether he be an owner, or a bailee”. “Keeper” has been defined as “the one who harbors or protects” an animal.