Homeowner "Keeper" of the Dogs
Menasha, WI - A homeowner is being held responsible for dog bite injuries to a passerby even though it was the dog's owner (not the homeowner) who let the dog out of the house before the attack. The District 2 Court of Appeals said Nancy Seefeldt was the "keeper" of the dogs and responsible for any injuries they caused. The dogs charged out of her home in October 2003 after their owner, Walter Waterman, let them out for a trip to the store.
Waterman and his dog had lived at Seefeldt's house for four months prior to the attack, making Seefeldt the dog's statutory owner.
One of the dogs ran across the street and bit Colleen Pawlowski three times, causing puncture wounds and soft tissue damage. Pawlowski sued Seefeldt and her insurance company after Waterman disappeared (he moved out of state and couldn't be located when the Pawlowskis sued in October 2006). The appeals court says Pawlowski should win damages. Even though the dogs' owner let them out, Seefeldt remained their keeper at the time of the injury.
Back in August, a San Francisco contractor sued a homeowner after a third party's dog attacked the contractor on the homeowner's property. The court ruled that the homeowner had a responsibility to keep the property safe.
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