Dog Bites and Companion Animals
More and more people in California are bringing companion animals with them everywhere they go. Unfortunately, not all of the animals that are classified as companion animals are equally trained, and some could still be likely to bite. If you’ve been bitten by an animal in public, make sure to collect the name of the owner along with the names of witnesses. Then contact a personal injury attorney to help you find out how you can proceed.
There are two classification of companion animals. The first are professionally trained, working animals. Professionally trained companion animals go through an extensive selection process to eliminate any animal that might be aggressive or uncooperative. Then, the animals that are selected for training spend years learning self control along with companion skills to finally reach certification. These animals can go anywhere the owner goes — from restaurants to airplanes. These animals are extremely intelligent and are very unlikely to bite anyone.
The second form of companion animals are emotional support animals. While dogs are the most common emotional support animal, cats, birds, and rabbits (among others) can also be considered as companions. These emotional support animals do not receive any training and are not able to self regulate their behavior any better than a common household pet. In addition, getting a doctor to say you need a companion animal is fairly easy and inexpensive.
In California, the law prevents most commercial establishments from demanding a form of proof for the companion animal. (Demanding proof can be seen as an act of discrimination.) Some consumers take advantage of this law and simply buy a companion animal vest, knowing that no one can demand proof. And while interpretations vary, the current laws might not even allow emotional support animals in eating establishments; but because of the discrimination laws, no one can ask for proof.
So because of the complex and conflicting laws, untrained dogs are everywhere. While many of those animals are legitimate, working dogs, some are not. So if you’ve been bitten by a stranger’s dog, consult a lawyer. The dog isn’t likely a true working animal, and you are well within your rights (and morals) to demand compensation for your injury.