Q: I am being sued what do I need to do? (Kennedy Township, PA)
A: There is a possibility you may be charged with a misdemeanor, summary offenses and local ordinance violations. A “dangerous” dog is one that has attacked, severely injured, or killed a human being or domestic animal, without provocation, and while it was away from its owner’s property. In Pennsylvania, an owner whose “dangerous dog” attacks a person may be guilty of a misdemeanor. You can also be sued in civil court. The measure of damages in a civil case would be limited to the value of the deceased dog and out of pocket medical expenses incurred by owner. These are very unfortunate situations, people simply love their pets. You should consult with an attorney to limit your potential damages. You might also want to consult with your veterinarian and line up an aggression evaluation and perhaps some behavior modification training for the dog to ensure this dog stays on your property.
Q: My father has Alzheimer’s Disease. He is belligerent, lost frequently. He has two guns with carry permits. My mother is in denial and I am concerned he will hurt someone. Am I liable because I knew he was not totally competent? He lives in Michigan. I live in PA. (Ross Township, PA)
A: My thought would be generally, you would not be liable. However, my concern would be that if you are aware of his propensities and that can be proven (i.e., you take him to doctors, letters to you by physicians or persons complaining of his behavior, you admitted him to a hospital, etc.) and he hurts someone, that Michigan may have a statute which extends criminal or civil liability on those with such knowledge. I would consult with a Michigan attorney and I would work to get these guns out of the house. Some states have a mechanism whereby the local sheriff upon being notified of mental incompetency, can remove guns. You may want to call the firearms department of the local sheriff or appropriate law enforcement in Michigan to see if they can advise you.