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False service animal trend may affect animal attacks

It is hard to imagine a beloved pet causing harm to a person. In California, most animal attacks are the result of wildlife getting close to populated areas as they expand into animal territories. Ask anyone who has heard the call of a coyote from a suburban porch.

Another challenge, especially in thickly settled areas is large and aggressive pets, which can threaten their owners, neighbors and fellow animals in their communities. California law assigns legal liability for an animal attack to the owner of the animal, so people must take responsibility for their pets.

One unfortunate trend that can cause a safety hazard is using untrained dogs as service animals or claiming they are service animals. A blind man in Sacramento claimed his working dog was attacked by a pit bull whose owner falsely claimed the pet was a therapy dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees service animals to several protected groups, although little in federal or state law punishes those who falsely claim one. “So many people lie about it that it ruins it for those of us that have a legitimate need,” according to the blind man in Sacramento.

Victims of animal attacks when an owner is responsible for the animal are legally permitted to seek reimbursement for medical expenses and compensation for pain, suffering and wages lost during recovery.

Legal representation is advisable for victims of dog bites and other animal attacks. An experienced attorney will be able to find the right legal path to restitution.

Source: People Pets, “‘Fake’ Therapy Dog Attacks Blind Man’s Service Dog,” Saryn Chorney, Oct. 10, 2017

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