New Law Requires Pet Liability Insurance

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Jackson Co., MI – A new amendment passed by a Jackson County, Michigan Board Of Commissioners creates an additional requirement to their animal control ordinance; that pet owners must obtain $100,000 of pet liability coverage if their pet is deemed by a judge to be vicious or potentially dangerous.

Of great concern to outraged pet owners is that the process for determining whether a pet is vicious or a threat is somewhat murky. The board gave no indication of the criteria that would be used to evaluate pets who may fit that profile, other than if they were involved in an attack. However, given that the amendment was introduced to prevent attacks, it is likely that there will be judgments made on some animals before they have injured someone.

In addition to these concerns, many residents have pointed out that there may not exist insurers who will write liability coverage for pet attacks in Michigan. In fact, many insurers will not write liability coverage for owners if they own a dog that has previously bitten another person. Either way the law leaves the pet owner in the unusual predicament of either violating the law or giving up the animal.

There are the added concerns of how attacks may have happened, including the potential of neighbors teasing or tormenting an animal until it attacks when it otherwise would have remained calm. The amendment does not address the standard of how attacks will be evaluated.

Commissioner David Elwell says the Board is going to continue looking at ways to improve the ordinance. “Things evolve,” said Elwell. “There’s always room for improvement and I think we’d be derelict in our duty if we didn’t do that and look for improvement.”

To address owner concerns the Board did vote to establish a committee of area professionals to review the amendment and consider improvements to the measure, as well as propose other measures.