When does a dog owner need a lawyer?

There are basically 3 kinds of trouble a dog owner can get into: your dog is accused of harming someone or something and you’re cited into “dog court,” your dog allegedly bit someone and his or her lawyer sues you or wants your insurance information, or you are accused of committing a crime involving your dog.

If anything like this happens, you need legal advice but don’t necessarily have to retain a lawyer to get it. Here’s what to do:

  • If you are cited into “dog court”: Lawyers usually don’t represent dog owners at “dog court” hearings. The reason: dog owners are almost always shocked at the cost of the legal services to defend a dog. That’s why I wrote the book, “Defending Your Dog,” and offer a phone consultation if a dog isn’t vicious and is wrongfully accused.
  • If you are sued or contacted by a lawyer representing the alleged bite victim, you must immediately inform your homeowners or renters insurance company. They will defend and indemnify you.
  • If you are summoned to court on criminal charges, you must immediately retain a local criminal defense lawyer. Not a lawyer who handles dog bite cases, which are civil cases focusing on money, not criminal proceedings.