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Previous aggression may no longer be required in dog bite cases

A 30-year-old pregnant woman has reportedly been attacked by a three-year-old pit bull at a San Diego apartment complex. According to media reports, the dog attack occurred when the pit bull and another dog were left unleashed allowed into a fenced common area on the premises left unleashed and unsupervised.

When the woman walked by the fenced area to take out the trash, one of the dogs reportedly escaped from the common area, knocked her to the ground and bit her. She was able to scream to her husband for assistance, and was transported to the hospital to determine the extent of the injuries from the dog bite. Thankfully, neither the woman nor her unborn baby suffered significant harm.

Unfortunately, the woman's story is not unique. Unfortunately, many residents of rental apartments in California and throughout the U.S. become the victims of vicious animal attacks by other tenant's pets living on the premises.

Although pit bull dogs have a reputation of being dangerous, it generally must be proven that the dog's owner and the apartment landlord knew, prior to the attack, that the pit bull had a history of violent and aggressive behavior.

In some jurisdictions, that may no longer be the case. This is because some courts are willing to rule that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, distinguishing this breed from other kinds of dogs and removing the evidentiary burden of proving that the dog had previously acted violently or aggressively. Instead, the victim would only have to show that the dog owner or the landlord knew that the dog is at least part pit bull.

Source: Opposing Views, "Pit Bull in San Diego Apt. Complex Bites Pregnant Woman as Courts Debate Landlord Liability," Denise A. Justin, Aug. 3, 2012

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