walking dog

The Justice for Buddy Act: Holding Pet Owners Liable

The Justice for Buddy act holds dog owners accountable for the injuries their pets cause. Each year, dogs in the US are responsible for more than 4.7 million bites. Of these, about 800,000 require medical attention.

The Justice for Buddy Act

In 2017, an attack in Hanover Park on a Yorkshire Terrier named Buddy resulted in the dog’s death. This prompted Senator Laura Murphy to introduce the “Justice for Buddy Act.” The legislation applies to pet owners whose reckless actions put people or other pets in danger. When a dog that has been repeatedly found off-leash in non-designated off-leash areas causes problems, the law allows law enforcement to place the animal within a licensed shelter, rescue, or pet sanctuary. 

While “in custody,” the dog will be evaluated and a determination will be made as to whether the dog is safe. Dogs that are considered safe will be rehomed while dogs that are considered dangerous will be put to sleep. Further, reckless dog owners who are found guilty are prohibited from owning a dog for up to three years.

Dog Bites in Illinois

Illinois is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means pet owners cannot say they were unaware of their animal’s aggressive behaviors or ability to cause personal injuries. Even if the dog has never caused an injury, pet owners are still liable for the injuries they cause.

Dog owners have a responsibility to protect people from their animals in public and on their private property. This includes muzzling their dog, using a leash, and making sure that fencing and other barriers on their property are sufficient to prevent the animal from “escaping” the enclosure. 

Individuals who suffer a dog bite should immediately clean the wound with soap and water, apply bandages to stem the bleeding, and apply antibiotic ointment as soon as possible. This should be done by trained medical providers who will thoroughly assess and document the extent of the injury. This information is useful in establishing liability under the Justice for Buddy Act and can be used as evidence in the pursuit of a personal injury claim in Illinois.