Pet sitting is a common occurrence today. More pet parents do not want to leave their pets unattended for the day, and especially when they go out of town. Instead of kenneling their dog, they hire a pet sitter to stay with the dog at home and care for it. The purpose of pet sitters is to reduce the strain on the dog and let it remain comfortable. While convenient, having a dog sitter present at the time of a dog attack complicates the issue of liability.
Just because the pet sitter is not the legal owner of the dog does not excuse him or her from liability. However, the dog’s attack and the owner being out of town does not excuse the owner, either. Therefore, it is important to understand the consequences of an attack during a pet sitting session and how the courts may apply negligence.
When the Animal Directly Attacks
After a dog attack, the pet sitter and the dog’s owner could both be liable. Typically, strict liability laws go straight to the dog’s owner, holding him or her accountable for the injuries and damages caused by the pet. However, there are exceptions to strict liability – especially if the dog was provoked first.
There is also the matter of “control” and who was technically in control of the animal at the time of the attack. Obviously, if the owner is out of town and there is a pet sitter, then the sitter was in control of the animal. So, the pet sitter could be considered the negligent party.
When the Animal Escapes and Attacks
If the animal were to escape while the owner is out of town, the issue of liability becomes more complex. After all, if the owner had no reason to suspect that the dog was a danger, and the dog did not have a history of escaping, then the dog’s random attack may not be enough to hold that owner liable.
If, however, the dog or the pet sitter did not take the necessary steps to ensure the dog was secured in the yard, both parties could be liable.
What About a Pet Sitter Hired Through an Agency?
Pet sitters referred through an agency complicate matters further. If the pet sitter is an employee of the agency, then the agency may be liable for any injuries that the dog causes due to the sitter’s negligence. However, most sites and companies offering pet sitting services are nothing more than referral services, and their sitters are not employees. Other times, agencies employ sitters on a contractor basis; in this case, they use the independent contractor status for their sitters to avoid any liability.
After an Attack by a Dog Under the Watch of a Pet Sitter, You Need a Dog Bite Attorney
Determining negligence in this type of case is highly complex, and it may not always be clear which party is responsible for a dog attack when a sitter is to blame.
To assist you with your case, call attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. There is no fee to meet with him, and you do not pay for his services unless he recovers compensation in your dog bite injury case.
Schedule your consultation now or call him with your questions at 215-771-0430 (cell) or 215-987-3550 (office). You can also send him a message online through his online contact form.