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Can I Be Sued If My Dog Bites A Trespassing Kid In My Own Backyard?

October 21, 2015

I live in a suburban neighborhood in Richmond, Va. Recently, neighborhood kids cut through my unfenced yard from the next block. My dog was not pleased and essentially chased them off. If he was to bite somebody trespassing in my yard, could I be held responsible?

No fences? I thought that an essential part of the suburban experience was walling off your yard as high as the building code allows and making just enough contact with your neighbors to confirm that you’re living in the wrong suburb.

If I was on a public Virginia sidewalk with my non-violent dog—we’ll call him Frothymouth Chompyface—I’d generally have a duty of ordinary care to make sure he doesn’t bite someone. So, if Frothymouth Chompyface has never bitten anyone before or otherwise shown the propensity to do so, and then bites off the lips (gross) of a nice old lady leaning down to give him a kiss (just as gross), I may very well not be held liable.

Read the rest of the column here at Deadspin.

Illustration by Sam Woolley.

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