You might not think twice about a puppy biting your hand lightly at the animal shelter as you’re looking to add to your fur family. In fact, most people don’t associate this type of “play” with a dog attacking, however, it can certainly be a precursor.
If the shelter or other facility you’re planning to adopt from wants you to sign a dog adoption contract or a dog rehoming contract, think twice before you do. This may indicate the dog has bitten or attacked someone before.
Here’s what you should know about dog rehoming contracts, dog bite risks, dog bite treatment, and how to get help with a dog bite lawsuit.
What Is a Dog Adoption Contract?
A pet adoption contract is an enforceable legal agreement between two parties that are transferring ownership of a pet from one party to another.
Because Massachusetts and New Hampshire law both treat pets as property according to state statutes, a pet adoption contract is designed to create a paper trail that shows the transfer. Often, contracts will also outline agreements that both parties make in regard to the sale or care of the pet.
Why Would a Dog Rehoming Contract Be Used?
Typically, these contracts are discussed as a way to ensure the safety of the pet in their new home. They might outline the nature of how the new owner agrees to take care of the pet once it’s in their possession, including but not limited to what food the pet will be fed and when it will receive what type of medical care.
At first glance, dog adoption contracts appear to be a great idea that protects the pup from heading home with an owner who doesn’t have the best intentions. However, these contracts often disguise the problematic intentions of the dog adoption agency or dog shelter themselves.
If the shelter has an aggressive dog or a dog with a history of biting, they may attempt to use an adoption contract to “lock” owners into keeping the pet, even if it attacks or harms them. Or, it may include language hidden within the fine print that the shelter or adoption agency isn’t responsible for the dog’s actions once it leaves the shelter. If the dog bites or hurts someone, the shelter may try to use the contract to escape culpability.
The Consequences of Adopting an Aggressive Dog
Even if a dog doesn’t have a specific bite history or is a small dog that doesn’t look capable of doing much harm, if you notice aggressive behaviors, you should think twice about adopting the pet.
A dog doesn’t have to be the dog with the strongest bite to do a lot of damage, especially to children. While the strongest dog bite can be critical or even deadly, smaller and “less vicious” dogs can also cause significant harm if they attack.
Dealing with a Dog Bite Wound
Sometimes, a dog bite wound will only need cleaning up or minor dog bite treatment at home or a walk-in clinic. These are often the best-case scenarios in situations where families have been pressured to sign a dog adoption contract for a dangerous dog.
An infected dog bite, or a dog bite on the face for example, requires much more than simple first aid. A dog puncture wound is similar; although it appears small on the outside, the dog bite wound penetrates much deeper and can result in serious and even deadly infections that course through the bloodstream faster than antibiotics can treat them.
In rare cases, a dog bite infection can take the life of the victim.
Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Dog bite injuries are typically covered under homeowners’ insurance policies, which obviously shelters and dog adoption organizations don’t have. To obtain compensation for the damages incurred by a dog attack, it may be necessary to file a dog bite lawsuit and prove that the shelter knew the dog was aggressive and allowed it to be rehomed anyway.
In some cases, you may even be able to prove that the shelter not only knew that the dog was aggressive or had a bite history but also concealed this information so the dog would be more likely to be adopted.
Contact Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys Mazow | McCullough, PC Today
If you or a family member have been bitten by a dog you adopted from a shelter, you may have the right to file an insurance claim or sue the shelter or agency you got the pet from. However, this may be complex and difficult to do, especially if you signed a dog adoption contract or have no records that the organization had prior knowledge that the pet was aggressive.
At Mazow McCullough, PC, we understand how life-changing a dog attack can be. We’re committed to offering caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable legal advocacy when your family needs it most.
Contact us today for a consultation to discuss the merits of your case and potential financial resolutions by filling out our online form or calling our Salem, MA office at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.