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Dog owners are responsible for damages suffered by any person who is bitten by their dog in a public place… but what about the public dog park? Does the city or county which owns and/or operates the dog park bear any responsibility?

There may be some ambiguity as to the public entity responsibility today, however effective January 1, 2014 the State of California has clarified this issue. Recently, Governor Brown signed a bill to amend the Government Claims Act of California to provide clear and concise language creating an immunity to a public entity which owns or operates a dog park.

Government Code, Section 831.7.5, which will become effective January 1, 2014, states that “a city, county, or city and county that owns or operates a dog park with signage stating that dog owners use the dog park at their own risk shall be immune from civil liability for damages suffered by any person or dog who is bitten by a dog or suffers any other dog inflicted injury while in the park.” The new Government Code section goes on to state that, should the public entity be negligent in the maintenance of the dog park, liability may still apply to the public entity.

For those who take their dogs to public dog parks: beware! As a dog owner, you remain liable for damages inflicted by your pet. The new Government Code section gives the public entity a free pass, not dog owners.

For dog bite claims or other injury-related issues, the attorneys at Heiting and Irwin are available for free consultations. Contact us at your convenience to discuss any injury or other damage-related claims. We are available to assist you.

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