For pet owners, dog parks are a welcome reprieve from leashes, fenced-in yards, and kennels. Dog parks, or off-leash areas, are designated (and typically enclosed) spaces where pets socialize and exercise. There are already several dog parks open in Macomb County, with a few set to open soon in Sterling Heights and Utica. But before you visit these facilities it's important to know your rights and liabilities when using dog parks.
As a dog owner, you may feel as if you’re able to relax when your animal is enjoying the park, but that’s not the case. The law requires that you keep a close eye on your dog, and with good reason. If your dog bites a person or another animal, digs holes, or pushes someone and that action led to injury, you, as the animal’s owner, are legally responsible. This law applies to dog parks as well, even though those “Enter at Your Own Risk” signs are clearly posted. Those signs do not release you, the animal’s owner, from liability, so be careful.
According to Michigan law, if a dog bites a person without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the dog owner is liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten. This is regardless of the viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. This includes an animal bite that occurred while using the dog park.
Here are rules governing dog parks that every dog owner should know, according to the Michigan State University College of Law:
Not every dog park has the same rules. The guidance provided by MSU is helpful, but you should always be aware of the rules specific to each dog park you visit. If you need advice regarding a dog-related injury at the dog park or elsewhere, visit our website or call 586-726-1000 to speak to one of our attorneys.