In our Phoenix law firm, we have represented many dog bite victims in serious injury cases, but have been fortunate to have not encountered a fatal dog attack as dramatic as this first-of-a-kind case in Michigan, where a couple of Cane Corso breeders have been charged with 2nd-degree murder when two of their dogs escaped their pens and mauled a 46-year-old jogger to death on July 23rd. The attack did not stop until a neighbor shot and wounded one of the dogs. Lapeer County Prosecutor Tim Turkelson said two prior biting incidents in 2012 and 2013 should have indicated to the couple that the dogs were dangerous, yet they kept them.
The couple's attorney says Animal Control bears some of the responsibility for the attack because the dogs were quarantined twice in two years, but the dogs were not seized and destroyed. Animal Control maintains that their computer system is not capable of cross-referencing incidents, especially with the volume they investigate; consequently, each incident is considered to be the first time the dog has bitten.
In www.dognotebook.com, there is a list of “25 dangerous dog breeds most likely to turn on their owners.” Cane Corso is listed as #7. This dog comes originally from Italy. The majority of Americans are not familiar with the breed; however, the dog has grown in popularity since its recognition in 2010 by the American Kennel Club. This canine is a muscular, athletic dog that normally weighs 100 pounds and stands 28 inches high at the withers and was bred for hunting and guard dog duty. The Cane Corso is also known as an “Italian mastiff,” and it is descended from the canis pugnax, the dogs used by the Romans in warfare.”
The Cane Corso is not recommended for novice dog owners because its natural instinct is to be suspicious of strangers. It requires a trainer who is familiar with the breed and has strong leadership abilities. The breed has its own AKC parent breed club, the Cane Corso Association of America (CCAA), and there are myriad breeders and Cane Corso rescue organizations throughout the United States.
Before you purchase a dog listed as dangerous, recognize your responsibility to train the dog properly and to carry adequate homeowner's insurance. Dog bite lawyers will advise you that here in Arizona, dog owners are strictly liable for their dogs. According to A.R.S. A.R.S. § 11-1020:
Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages are inflicted.
In addition, pursuant to A.R.S. §11-1025(A), a dog owner is strictly liable for all property, physical and emotional damages sustained by the victim. A.R.S. § 11-1025(A) provides that:
The owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of its viciousness.
If you own a dog of any breed, do have adequate insurance to cover injuries and/or property damage caused by the animal. In our Phoenix personal injury law firm, we often file lawsuits against dog owners who swear that their dogs wouldn't hurt a flea.
Jay Ciulla is a phoenix personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who handles dog bite cases.