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The SPCA is warning people not to go out and buy chihuahuas to emulate the new movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” They say that these dogs will attach to one person and be hostile to everyone else, so it’s not really a family dog.

They advise doing research into different breeds and thinking about what you want out of your pet before going out and buying a dog. Dogs are very different from breed to breed. Some are the sweetest little puff balls you’ll ever know and some are used strictly to attack trespassers.

When you decide to own any pet, there are always legal issues involved as well. If the dog has a history of violent tendencies and attacks a person, you can be liable for the damages. If you own certain animals, like, oh say… tigers, then you have something called strict liability for any damages or injuries caused by your tiger because tigers are inherently dangerous and the court believes that you took the responsibility upon yourself when you chose to own the… tiger.

Because animals are living breathing things that you can’t always control, most of the time, a first offense will not bring about litigation. But when the owner has knowledge of dangerous behavior and chooses to keep the animal anyway the owner takes on the liability for the animal.

Let’s face it some dogs are just more dangerous to own than others. Poodles, for instance, are mean (at least the two that I met were). Bishons are cutie wittle wuv muffins. When people hear about breeds like pit bulls, presa canarios, and rottweilers, they think of dangerous dogs that have been known to attack people and suddenly fear for their children. But really, every dog is different, and I know a pit bull who is just a big puppy inside and would never hurt anybody. A great deal of violence is due to how they are raised.

But be forewarned! Dogs are animals, they can turn on you in an instant, yes, even the Bishon Frise. And when a dog attacks a human, the owner may be liable. If a dog kills a human, the owners may face criminal charges. I think everyone in California remembers the Whipple case. It is still ongoing, but in September, Ms. Knoller was sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison.

All animals, even domesticated ones, have the potential to be dangerous. Remember what they were as a species before becoming “pets”. Choose your pets carefully because you will be held accountable for their actions.

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