There is no lie that a dog is a man’s best friend. But what happens when the best friend bites a person? If your dog attacks or injures an individual, you could be held liable for your dog’s actions. Get this: even if it is an unlawful trespasser on your property who got injured.

With every animal, comes certain responsibilities. It is your responsibility to maintain your dog in a safe environment – usually one with closed and secure gates ensuring that the dog is kept securely. Having dogs on your property, it is crucial to know the facts if the dog attacked someone. You could be held liable for the damages.

Even with unlawful trespassers. Do not get us wrong, you are entitled to protect your property and your family from trespassers, but the law expects the protection in a very reasonable and respectful manner. A very good example of a reasonable manner would be to display to the public that you have a dog. The display is usually on the gates or on the walls of your property. This gives the public eye a proper notice of the dogs on your property.

Although the law relating to dog bite claims in South Africa are crystal clear, there is no doubt that if a dog bites you or any other family member, it is the owner who is held liable for the damages.

However, if you are in this current situation and your dog bit someone please take note that certain mitigating factors may exist. The owner of the dog can be found not liable for the injuries caused by the dog if:

1.      the victim provoked the dog by teasing or taunting it.

2.     The dog is considered to have acted contrary to its nature. The dog’s owner could not have predicted the attack.

3.     the victim was illegally on the premises when the attack occurred.

4.     the victim has been warned of the danger of the dog but refused to listen.

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