Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) has signed a bill creating stricter liability for pet owners or sitters whose dogs injure others.
This new law imposes liability on a dog’s owner for damages suffered by a person who is injured by the dog while on public or lawfully on private property. This liability attaches regardless of whether the dog has a history of vicious behavior or whether the dog’s owner had knowledge of the dog’s viciousness.
There are a few exceptions. A dog’s owner would not be liable if the dog is a military or police dog and the injury occurrs during the course of the dog’s official duties; if the injured person is trespassing upon the private property of the dog’s owner; or if the injury occurs while the dog is protecting the dog’s owner from attack by the injured person.
In addition to an actual owner, a person harboring or keeping a dog would be considered to be the dog’s owner for the purposes of this law.
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