Can a property owner be held liable, if their dog got out of a fenced yard through an open gate?

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Can a property owner be held liable, if their dog got out of a fenced yard through an open gate?

I received a statement 2 weeks ago with charges of $260, 31-60 days overdue, from Animal Control; the next day another statement indicated charges of $278. The tenants signed a contract indicating they would abide by all pet laws. I requested documents their report indicates “dog came out of open gate.” In the definitions it states, “responsible person means the person, who a city official believes, is causing, performing, permitting to exist or otherwise maintaining, a public nuisance and includes the owner of the real property involved..” How can I get these charges dropped?

Asked on October 28, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Ok so you own the property and rented to the tenants.  Your lease with them states that they would abide by all laws regarding their pets.  In the meantime, you were fined as the property owner for the dog escaping.  Are you liable?  Apparently you are under the law tht you have stated here.  You as the owner are always ultimately liable unless you have shifted liability under a contract of sorts.  Here the contract is your lease.   What can you do?  Charge the fine back to your tenants.  How?  Read your lease agreemnt or seek legal help to determine how to go about doing so legally under the laws in your state.  You may have to bring them to small claims court. Good luck.


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