California exotic pet owners may be liable for animal attacks

Posted on September 23, 2013 by

On behalf of The Law Office of Marvin S. Lanter posted in Premises Liability on Monday, September 17, 2012.

Although exotic pets are popular, their owners must never underestimate the dangerous propensities of their beloved pet. California’s strict laws prohibiting ownership of exotic animals not only protect members of the public from animal attacks, but they ensure that wild animals are properly cared for by trained professionals.

Recently, a central California woman suffered severe bite wounds from a Javan macaque monkey, possibly owned by her boyfriend. Officials said that this particular monkey had bitten the woman before. The monkey, that is believed to have been under the victim’s boyfriend’s care since it was two weeks old, was kept in a small dog kennel and was fed an inappropriate diet consisting of Frosted Flakes and juice. The man may now face charges for unlawful possession of a restricted species.

Ownership of a pet is often vital in determining fault in premises liability cases. In some states, a pet owner is liable for an accidental animal bite even if the owner had no reason to know the animal was dangerous. In other states, the owner of an animal will be liable if the owner knows, or should know, that the animal had dangerous propensities. In determining whether or not an animal has dangerous propensities, the court will consider numerous factors, such as the breed and size of the animal, the purpose for which the animal was kept and whether the animal has bitten a person in the past.

In addition, when a person is attacked by an animal kept as a pet, liability for injuries may extend not just to the pet owner. The owner of the property where the incident occurred may also be held responsible for an accident or injuries caused by an animal that the property owner allowed on the premises. If an animal owner puts up warning signs on their property, this conduct may be used to show that the owner was aware of the animal’s dangerous propensities.

Pet owners must be aware of their particular animal’s typical behaviors as well as the propensities of their pet’s species in general. Their vigilance combined with California’s laws against exotic animal ownership, will help keep the public safe from accidents involving pets.

Source:, “Illegal pet monkey attacks woman in Paso Robles,” AnnMarie Cornejo, Sept. 8, 2012

© 2017 The Law Office of Marvin S. Lanter, Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.
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