Pets come with a lot of responsibility that goes beyond feeding them and cleaning up after them. At some point, it is expected that your pet could come into contact with another person. If you have a pet that is large enough to roam the house and yard freely, then you have just taken on a whole new set of responsibilities to those who visit your home and those who live in your neighborhood.
A pet owner is responsible for caring for their pet, creating sufficient living accommodations, making sure their pet is unable to harm others, and to make sure their pet is registered when required by law. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to know what it means to provide proper accommodations for your pet and understand how to protect your surrounding neighbors from your pet as well.
A dog that is left in a yard enclosed by a fence but without any kind of leash or chain is not considered to be properly secured. If a mother and child walk by your yard, the dog could conceivably jump the fence to get to them. Negligence comes into play when a pet owner does not take all possible situations into account. A pet should never be allowed to roam the neighborhood at will, especially larger pets that can injure people or damage property.
If a person walks by a fenced-in yard and starts provoking the dog that lives in that yard, then the owner of the dog may not be negligent for any attack that happens. Any time a pet is provoked into an attack, the owner of that pet could avoid liability. It can be difficult to prove that a pet was provoked unless the pet owner has their property monitored by cameras.
Another problem with the idea of non-owner responsibility is that owner responsibility still comes into effect if there is an attack. If a dog that is not properly secured in a backyard is provoked into an attack, negligence could fall on both the pet owner and the person who was attacked.
Pet owners need to become familiar with the local laws regarding pet ownership negligence as soon as they take ownership of their pet. It is expected of a pet owner that they know the law, and that they take every possible precaution to follow the laws and keep their pets and neighbors safe.
A pet owner is legally negligent for the actions of their pet in most situations. If it can be proven that the pet was provoked, then the owner might escape some negligence. But a pet owner can safely assume that if their animal attacks another person or animal, then the negligence of the owner will definitely be investigated.