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Dog Owners – what they are, risks, fines & responsibilities

The duties of the dog owner

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Dog Owners – what they are, risks, fines & responsibilities

Having a dog involves important responsibilities: what are the duties of the dog owner and all there is to know in case of damage.

The duties of the dog owner
Duties of the dog owner: what are the risks and penalties (Photo AdobeStock)

A dog as a friend is certainly a great privilege, but it also entails responsibilities not only towards Fido, but also towards others especially when we find ourselves in public contexts. Knowing and respecting the rules that govern the life of a dog owner is absolutely necessary in order not to incur heavy penalties, complaints and complaints of any kind. This article will provide a brief but useful one vademecum on the duties and responsibilities of the dog owner and will clarify the correct way to act based on certain situations in which he may be involved. And it can also be a useful reading for those who intend to adopt a four-legged friend: better to be aware not only of the joy of having one, but also of all the responsibilities it entails.

The duties of the master: public safety

Dog on a leash
Dog on a leash (Pixabay Photo)

Being happy to go for a walk with your dog in public places does not mean being able to cause damage to others or to the public places where you walk. When you have a dog, it is essential that the owner does not forget the rights of those who, like him and Fido, enjoy common public spaces or urban areas. Before looking at Laws of the Criminal Code governing the detention of a dog in public situations, it could be summarized in a sentence that: the owner of a dog is responsible not only for the well-being of the animal, but also for all the actions and damages caused by it. Man is therefore called to compensation for damage and above all to make sure that these situations do not happen, taking the necessary precautions in this regard.

It is obvious that a dog cannot be blamed for damage to people or things, but the owner will respond. So let’s think about it when we want to adopt a four-legged friend and we don’t think it’s all pampering and a lot of love: it certainly is, but it also involves responsibilities, under penalty of high fines and in some serious cases even more.

Laws on the duties and responsibilities of the owner

In order to have a clearer legal framework, the rules they regulate are reported below risks, penalties and duties of a master who frequents public places and common areas in the company of his dog.

Ordinance of the Ministry of Health

Although it dates back to August 6, 2013, the same is extended year by year. It is concerned with safeguarding public safety from the aggression of dogs and provides for a series of duties that the owner is required to observe to prevent damage. The points of the Ordinance are basically four:

  1. the owner is responsible for the well-being, control and management of the dog. If the dog causes damage to third parties (animals and people) or things, the owner will respond both criminally and civilly.
  2. Whoever takes a dog into custody, thus becoming the dog responsible holder, although not the owner, he assumes all responsibility when he is with the dog.
  3. It is the duty of the owner (or whoever takes his place) to always have with him: a leash no longer than 1.50 m to lead the animal to urban areas or public places; a muzzle (Read here: Muzzle for dogs: what they are and how to choose the right one) to be worn by the dog also according to the regulations in force in that Municipality. In addition, the owner will be able entrust the dog only to those who will be able to manage it, will have to inquire about his responsibilities and provide for the education of the dog so as not to cause damage to people and animals in contexts that he finds himself attending. To learn more about the question of the obligation to wear a muzzle, it is useful to consult also‘Art. 83 of the Veterinary Police regulation.
  4. Finally, the owner must collect and clean up the dog’s needs in order not to incur the crime of dirtying the streets or other public areas (Learn more here: Cleaning the dog’s needs on the street: fines, risks and common sense).

Art. 672 of the Criminal Code

The aforementioned article reads as follows:

Anyone who leaves free, or does not keep with due caution, dangerous animals owned by him, or entrusts their custody to an inexperienced person, is punished with the administrative sanction from 25 euros to 258 euros‘.

And goes on:

‘The same administrative sanction is subject to: 1) who, in open places, abandon yourself to animals from shooting, pack or racing, or leaves them without custody, even if they are not dissolved, or attacks or leads them in such a way as to expose public safety to danger, or entrusts them to an inexperienced person; 2) those who stir up or frighten animals, so as to endanger people’s safety. “

Culpable injury: if the dog attacks a person

The duties of the master
The duties of the owner: what to do when damage to things or people is done (Photo AdobeStock)

When the dog is muzzled and attacks a person, Fido’s owner incurs the crime of culpable injury, complete with the opening of a criminal trial against him. In the event that the attack by the dog results in the death of the victim, the situation is aggravated and the owner will be charged with manslaughter.

As far as civil liability is concerned, the owner must respond to the damages caused, patrimonial and non-patrimonial according to the‘Art. 2052 of the Civil Code, which reads like this:

‘The owner of an animal or who uses it for the time in which it is in use, is responsible for the damage caused by the animal, whether it was in its custody, whether it was lost or fled, unless it proves the case fortuitous’.

The only way to avoid compensation therefore is prove the accident: when an external factor that was neither expected nor foreseeable, exonerates the owner from his responsibilities. In essence, this is an event in the animal’s action, although the owner has done everything to counter it with all possible precautions (i.e. to make him wear a muzzle, avoid contact with other people, etc.). If the owner fails to prove the accident, he will of course have to compensate the damage.

The duties of the dog owner

Dog crossing the street
Dog crossing the street (Pixabay Photo)

In addition to the duties already mentioned above, i.e. the obligation to have the muzzle, the leash with you during the walk, to collect and clean the dog’s needs with appropriate tools, entrust the animal only to responsible and capable people to deal with it, here’s what else the owner has to do to comply with laws and regulations.

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