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Dog Walker Safety Tips

By San Diego Attorney on May 20, 2020

Dog walking is an occupation that has several benefits. It provides fresh air and exercise for you, as well as for the pets you are walking. It lowers blood pressure, improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces stress, and builds stronger muscles and bones. It provides a unique source of income that allows walkers to spend time with man’s best friend. However, in addition to the benefits, this occupation has several risks.

What Are the Risks of Dog Walking?

Dog walkers are exposed to certain risks, including:

  • Dog bites: It is not unheard of for dog walkers to be bitten by the animals they are walking. Even if the pet you are walking is friendly, dogs you meet on your walk may not be. Never approach a strange dog without first asking its owner.
  • Intersection accidents: Approximately one-quarter of all traffic fatalities and half of all traffic injuries occur in intersections, as reported by the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Always be alert for approaching vehicles from all directions when crossing the street. Inattentive drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Distracted drivers: With the use of cell phones, driver distraction has become a major problem on America’s roadways. To combat this risk, you should walk on the left side of the street facing traffic, so you can see oncoming vehicles and avoid obstacles. In addition, keep the dog on your left so other drivers can more easily spot you. Drivers also have more difficulty seeing pedestrians at dusk and dawn, making reflective clothing a must for walks in dim lighting for both you and the dogs.

California Veterinarian’s Rule and Dog Walkers

The dog bite statute in California holds dog owners strictly liable based on the regulations of California Civil Code 3342(a). The key elements of this law are that the owner is liable for dog bite cases where the animal bites an individual when they are in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property.

One exception is the veterinarian’s rule, under the assumption of risk doctrine. Basically, the idea is that veterinarians have assumed the risk of being bitten by an animal as inherent to the profession. The courts have held that veterinarians cannot hold dog owners strictly liable when they are bitten by dogs under their care. This rule may also apply to dog walkers, as they have also assumed a risk inherent in their profession. However, the rule may not apply if the dog owner knew the animal had a history of violence, or was potentially dangerous, and failed to inform the dog walker of that possibility.

Bitten by a Dog You Were Walking?

A dog bite can cause a serious wound that may require extensive medical care. Dog bite wounds can lead to dangerous infections if the skin has been punctured. If you have been bitten by a dog you were paid to walk, get prompt medical attention for your injuries. Next, speak with an experienced lawyer about the incident and your injuries. Our San Diego personal injury attorney at jD LAW, P.C. is a dedicated legal advocate for injured people, even if the assailant was a furry friend. Contact us at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

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