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Can the owner of a service dog be liable for a dog bite injury?

It is important for Arizona residents to keep in mind that under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Arizona Statute Sec. 11-1024, it is against the law to discriminate against a person with a disability who uses and relies on their service animal to get around and to perform tasks for the person.

Not all animals fall under the definition of a service animal however. In Arizona a service animal can only be a dog or a miniature horse that is specifically trained to help out the person with a disability. Keeping this in mind, it is important to be aware that Arizona is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite injuries.

Under current Arizona statute irrespective of the nature of the dog, if a dog bites another person in a public place, a private place or in the home of the dog owner without provocation, the owner of the dog is strictly responsible and liable for any damages the person who is bitten by the dog suffers. When it comes to a service animal, if a service animal is in training and bites a person then the handler of the service animal could be liable for damages.

Generally speaking in a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite injuries, it is typically not very difficult to prove fault on part of the dog owner. However, a dog owner may use reasonable provocation as a defense to a claim of damages. When it comes to provoking a dog, the court examines the provoking action or conduct to determine if a reasonable mind would see the conduct by the person who was bitten as likely to provoke a dog to bite.

Source: Arizona State Legislature, "Article 6.1 - Handling of Animals," accessed July 20, 2015

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Law Office of Keith A. Hammond, P.C.

Keith A. Hammond, P.C. Attorney at Law
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