There is no doubt dogs can be wonderful pets and companions. However, for a variety of reasons, sometimes dogs do attack - causing injuries from minor scratches to catastrophic death. In Illinois, dog-bite law is governed by the Animal Control Act. The law states:
If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby. (510 ILCS 5/16)
An owner is defined broadly:
"Owner" means any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her. (510 ILCS 5/2.16)
The law is called "strict liability" because the owner, or keeper, is automatically liable for any injuries if:
1) The animal attacks or threatens attack;
2) The victim had a legal right to be where he or she was;
3) The victim did nothing to provoke an attack.
An owner, or others, may also be liable under common-law negligence for injuries caused by animals.