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Why You Should Not Approach Other People’s Dogs

By DiBella Law Offices on August 15, 2017

black lap puppy lying on the side of the street

There are many reasons why you should not approach an unknown dog, and one really big, obvious reason.

Many people are willing to engage a strange dog, often because they think the dog is cute. As a result, many people will be bitten. This is especially dangerous for children, so teach them early and often to “keep their distance” from strange dogs.

A Dog’s Territory

Often, people approach dogs without considering the dog’s safety space or “territory.” One example is walking by a car with a dog in it and reaching inside to pet the animal. Just as we would feel threatened by someone getting in our personal space, the dog may view you as someone with harmful intentions. This also applies to dogs inside a fence at their own homes.

Coming On Too Fast

We have all seen people, particularly children, who notice a dog from a distance and run over to get a closer look. This can make a dog very uncomfortable, and if it is on a walk with its owner, it may react aggressively, thinking that the owner is under attack.

The proper course of action is to approach slowly and look for signs (body language) that indicate the dog is afraid or uncomfortable. In addition, you should always ask the owner if it’s okay to approach, and limit long periods of staring, which could trigger a negative response from the dog.

Facial Proximity

Never get face-to-face with a strange dog. That closeness and direct eye contact may make them defensive, and it also makes you susceptible to a potentially damaging bite!

If the dog shows fear or aggression, simply view it from a distance. When engaging a small dog, squatting down to greet it may make it more comfortable. Also, remember that dogs may have a fear of you because of what you are wearing or carrying.

Massachusetts Dog Owner Liability

Massachusetts’s statute explains that if a dog inflicts damage to a person or property, the dog’s owner is responsible for the damages. This does not apply in cases of trespassers, or someone who is tormenting or abusing the animal. The state’s law imposes strict liability for damages, which includes expenses for veterinary care in situations where a domestic animal is injured. This law was enacted to protect people who are, without provocation, attacked by a dog.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured from a dog attack, you are probably eligible for compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering and other distress. The attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., have in-depth experience with dog bites. For a complimentary review of your case, contact us today at (781) 262-3338.


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