by Nadeen Green, JD
…do you solemnly swear that you have been a good dog, and that you have not attacked or bitten any other living creature?
Wouldn’t it be loverly if before a dog (pet or service animal) moved into your manufactured housing community that you could ask it about its previous history. Of course this is not a real plan, because dogs might not answer truthfully, even if under oath (maybe because they have been told to “lie” down so much).
But wait! How about if you ask the dog’s owner. Next time you are updating your housing applications or other animal related paperwork, you may wish to consider two questions: (Please have your own attorney help you with the wording – I am giving concept here, not legal advice):
To the best of your knowledge, has this animal ever attacked and/or bitten another animal?
To the best of your knowledge, has this animal ever been cited as a “dangerous animal” (or similar designation) by any animal control authority?
Why might you choose to do this? Because it might (might – not will) be a favorable factor if (more likely when) you are someday sued for allowing a dog at your community that harms someone or their pet. When someone says “You should have known this would happen!” you can show that you at least inquired into the background of the animal.
BTW – I know that some folks that want to live at your community will not answer these questions honestly (gasp!). But you will have made an effort to be responsible. And for that, both a jury and your insurer just may love you. # #