Leaving our beloved pets in someone else's care can be a difficult decision. While most boarding facilities and dog daycares strive to provide a safe and nurturing environment, unfortunate incidents can still occur. If your dog has been injured at a boarding facility, you may be wondering about your legal options and whether you can hold the facility responsible. In this article, we will explore the legal aspects surrounding injuries at boarding facilities, the differences between various pet care options, safety measures to consider, the legal obligations of daycares and boarding facilities, potential lawsuits, recoverable damages, and the importance of seeking professional legal advice.
Understanding Pet Care Options
Before diving into the legal aspects, it's essential to clarify the differences between pet care options:
Pet Sitting: Involves hiring someone to provide short-term care for your pet at your own home, typically for feeding or walking purposes.
Pet Kennel: Refers to a small crate where your pet is temporarily kept at a business, such as during veterinary care or grooming appointments.
Day Care Facility: A licensed establishment that cares for pets for less than 24 hours, without overnight stays.
Boarding Facility (or Boarding Kennel): A licensed establishment that provides care for pets for extended periods, including overnight stays.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on daycares and boarding facilities.
Ensuring the Safety of Pet Day Cares and Boarding Facilities
It's crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet before entrusting them to a daycare or boarding facility. Consider the following measures:
Research: Check online reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints, if any, to gauge the facility's reputation.
Facility Visit: Show up unannounced and take a tour to assess cleanliness and the quality of care provided to the animals. Ask the facility what type of training and certifications the staff have.
Question the Staff: Inquire about the number of dogs that play together, the frequency of bathroom breaks, staff training, and other relevant details. Ask them what happens in different situations, like a dogs fighting, or a fire.
Seek Recommendations: Consult friends, family, and local animal control to gather information about the facility's track record and any potential legal issues. You can even call the local police station and see if they have received any complaints about the facility.
Health Assessment: Ensure your pet is in good health before leaving them at the facility. Take photos and consider visiting a vet to document your pet's condition upon arrival. When you pick up the pet, thoroughly record its condition, just in case.
Legal Obligations of Doggie Day Cares and Pet Boarding Facilities
Daycares and boarding facilities have legal obligations to fulfill. These obligations typically include:
Providing Basic Care: Ensuring pets have access to food, water, medications, and emergency veterinary care (with costs borne by the pet owner).
Bathroom Breaks: Allowing dogs multiple opportunities for bathroom breaks throughout the day.
Companionship: Offer companionship and adequate interaction during the pet's stay.
Evaluating a Potential Lawsuit
If your pet has been harmed while under the care of a daycare or boarding facility, you may consider pursuing legal action. To establish a negligence claim against the facility, you generally need to demonstrate the following elements:
Duty: The facility owed a duty of care toward your pet, as discussed earlier.
Breach of Duty: The facility failed to act with reasonable care, falling short of fulfilling its obligations.
Causation: The facility's negligence directly caused harm to your pet.
Damages: The extent of harm suffered by your pet, which may include physical injuries, veterinary bills, and emotional distress.
In some cases, you may also have grounds for a "negligence per se" claim if the facility violated specific laws or regulations.
It's important to note that liability waivers or disclaimers included in facility contracts can complicate the process of pursuing compensation. However, their enforceability may vary depending on state laws.
Recoverable Damages in Pet Injury Cases
The recoverable damages in pet injury cases are primarily based on the fair market value of the pet. At Boston Dog Lawyers we do not accept this limitation and fight to seek additional compensation for sad and angry pet owners. We have developed our own pet damages formula which is being accepted by several insurance companies. However, compensation can vary by state and may include:
Economic Damages: Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, such as veterinary bills and medications.
Replacement Cost: In some states, the owner may be awarded the fair market value or replacement cost of a lost or killed pet.
Noneconomic Damages: A few states allow for the recovery of noneconomic damages, which can include loss of companionship and emotional distress.
Punitive Damages: In cases involving extreme negligence or intentional misconduct, punitive damages may be considered.
Statute of Limitations
When considering legal action, it's crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations, which varies by state. The statutes typically apply the same time limits as those for personal property claims. However, certain circumstances, such as cases involving service animals, may have different statutes of limitations. In Massachusetts, you typically have three years from the date of the negligence to file for pet injury or death claims.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Navigating the legal complexities surrounding pet injury cases can be challenging. It's advisable to consult an animal law lawyer who specializes in this area of law. A lawyer can assess the viability of your claim, help gather evidence, negotiate settlements, and guide you through the legal process. In cases involving lower dollar amounts, small claims court may be an appropriate venue.
When your dog is injured at a boarding facility, it's important to understand your legal rights and options. While pursuing compensation can be challenging due to liability waivers and other factors, seeking legal advice and exploring your options is crucial. By holding facilities accountable for their actions, Boston Dog Lawyers not only seeks justice for your beloved pet but also contributes to improving the safety and quality of care provided by such establishments.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.