by Sam Mazzotta
Dear Paw’s Corner: I have a sweet little mixed Terrier named Cookie who’s devoted to me. He’s not so devoted to other people, and he barks at strangers and other dogs. Recently, I had to take a business trip and could not bring Cookie with me. I paid a local dog sitter to come and visit each day.
The sitter messaged me on the first day and said that he would not be continuing to take care of Cookie because my dog bit him when he tried to put on his halter. I had to scramble and call in favors for a family member to go and get Cookie for the week.
On top of this, the sitter wants me to pay his medical bill because he says it’s my fault the dog bit him. I say the sitter inconvenienced me, and it’s not my liability. What do you think?
—Carl in San Diego
Dear Carl: Ouch! I’m sorry this happened to you, and to the sitter who was bitten. Situations like this can get complicated, especially when you weren’t there to witness what happened.
Remain calm and try to get as much information from the sitter and from your relative as possible about what happened, and about Cookie’s behavior while you were gone.
In California, courts have usually taken the view that, like dog groomers, pet sitters and walkers accept that there is a risk of being bitten by a dog in their line of work (www.sallymorinlaw.com/ dog-bites/whos-liable-if-a-dog-bites-me-when-its-with-a-dog-sitter/). It seems like this is the case here, but I am not an attorney. If you feel that this situation is going to escalate into a lawsuit, consult an attorney before deciding what to do next.
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