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Keeping wild animals could mean owners are liable for injuries

In the vast majority of cases, animal bites come from domesticated animals like cats or dogs that are kept as pets. Many are very safe.

However, people occasionally keep wild animals as pets. Legally speaking, this is often considered "inherently dangerous." Even when owners think they are controlling the animal, it's not domesticated and the odds are higher that it will be dangerous.

For example, some people have kept raccoons or other animals, perhaps nursing them back to health after an injury. While the raccoon may get used to people and be treated as a pet, it still is a wild animal.

From a legal perspective, this is a very important distinction. It may mean that the owner is liable for any bite that happens, even if he or she tried to prevent it, simply because the act of keeping the animal in the first place increases the danger.

For example, an owner may know that a wild animal is dangerous. He or she may post signs and build tall fences to keep the animal contained. This is done to protect people who come on the property.

While that's thoughtful and can be helpful, if someone is bitten, the owner may not be able to point to the signs and fences and claim he or she isn't responsible. While an effort was made, since that person chose to keep a wild animal where it was more likely to bite people than if it was left in the wild, he or she may need to compensate the victim.

Have you been bitten by a wild animal that was being kept as a pet? Was one of your children bitten? If so, it's critical to know how the law views these situations.

Source: FindLaw, "Does the Type of Animal Affect a Bite Injury Case?," accessed July 10, 2017

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