A Puppy for Christmas? Attorney Counsels Families to Wait

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While a puppy might seem like a wonderful Christmas present, Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorney Charles Hausmann says that it can be a train wreck if the family isn’t aware of all the consequences.

Attorney Charles Hausmann warns people that their bundle of joy can turn into a tragedy and lawsuit if the dog’s care and training isn’t handled properly. Hausmann’s law firm--Hausmann-McNally--has almost 40 years in the personal injury field, representing victims in numerous dog-bite cases.

Hausmann says he thinks having dogs is a wonderful thing, but they can be dangerous.” The holidays are so hectic that a pup might get off to a bad start. And a poorly trained dog can spell trouble.

“Dog-bite cases are horrible,” Hausmann says, “often there is the severely injured victim and an owner who never dreamed the dog would harm anyone.” Even if there was never an intent for the dog to cause harm, the fact that the dog bit or injured someone is often enough to get a judgment or settlement for the victim.

Hausmann and his colleagues have handled numerous dog-bite cases. In a recent case, a dog owned by a child’s grandparents severely mauled a young boy, requiring several operations and facial reconstruction “This is a family tragedy,” says Hausmann.

“In my experience, dogs clearly need training, and the owners need to constantly evaluate their pet’s behavior. A dog that growls, threatens or seems overprotective is liable to do serious damage.” Hausmann adds that people who train dogs to attack are liable for more severe punishments in court. Often the consequence includes having to put the dog down.

Dog-bite laws differ from state to state, but there isn’t any place where a dog owner can go Scott free if their animal seriously hurts someone, says Hausmann. In Wisconsin, for example, the courts will award double damages if the owner was aware the animal previously bit or injured someone. In some states, there are exceptions if the dog was “protecting” its own property or defending against mistreatment.

A second piece of advice is that anyone getting a dog should make sure their Homeowners’ Insurance is adequate to cover a dog-bite incident. Hausmann says that money to pay for the injuries, plastic surgery, pain and suffering and lost income most often comes from Homeowners’ Insurance policies. If there is no insurance, a dog owner’s personal assets can be at risk. For that reason, Hausmann urges dog owners to carry adequate insurance to cover a potential dog incident. “Once you are aware of the enormous awards from dog-bite cases, you will not want to go uninsured,” Hausmann says. “Owners are responsible for the actions and damage done by their dogs.”

The reason experts question the wisdom of a Christmas puppy is that there is often too much excitement in the household at the holiday time and children may not understand the seriousness of taking on a new pet in view of the toys and treats available.

According to PetRescue.com, “Christmas puppies often are impulse purchases without the hard self-assessment that goes into asking oneself if one has the time and the energy and the inclination to give the necessary commitment to raising and socializing and educating that puppy. Better to get that new puppy at a less emotionally charged time of the year, when the decision to add a dog to the family is a less impulsive….”

Attorney Charles Hausmann adds, “Better to bring a puppy home when the things are calmer and it is easier to focus on what it takes to bring up a healthy, well-trained, safe animal. That way, everyone gets off to a better start.”

Contact: Attorney Charles Hausmann, 414-840-6620, 414-271-5300


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