Cat’s Rescue of Boy Puts Spotlight on Feline Bravery, California’s Dog-Bite Statute

The old adage that a dog is man’s best friend was most decidedly not the case Tuesday at one particular residence in Bakersfield, California, that has become well-known in the viral community for the heroics of a family house cat that came to the rescue of a boy attacked by a neighbor’s dog, all of which was captured on film. And San Francisco dog-bite attorney Gregory J. Brod would cite the amazing bravery of a boy’s best friend as not only as a teachable moment on the surprising abilities of the felines that live with us in our communities but also a “purrfect” opportunity to review the applicable dog-bite statue in California.

According to KERO-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Bakersfield, a 4-year-old boy named Jeremy Triantafilo was playing on his bicycle in the driveway of his family’s house when an 8-month-old labrador/chow mix owned by a neighbor sneaks around the family’s parked car, bites him in the leg and starts to drag the boy away. However, no sooner did the dog attack Jeremy, who has mild autism, than the family’s cat, Tara, swooped in to confront the much bigger dog, rushing it and chasing the startled canine away.

Feline’s Heroics Likely Saved Boy from Worse Injuries
The heart-warming heroics of Tara were captured on a surveillance video taken by Jeremy’s father, Roger, and the now world-famous feline probably helped save Jeremy from more serious injuries than those he sustained that have required a few stitches. Not surprisingly, Tara is one fat cat with a some major admirers.

“Tara is my hero,” said Jeremy of the family black-and-gray tortoiseshell cat, who became a part of the Triantafilo family in 2008.

The dog that attacked Jeremy is now under voluntary observation at the Bakersfield Animal Care Center and, according to police, will be quarantined for 10 days before being euthanized. The dog escaped from the neighbor’s property when the neighbor was pulling their vehicle out of their gated driveway. After the dog’s escape, the neighbor called 911 on behalf of the boy and his mother, Erica, who was nearby watering a tree when she heard Jeremy’s screams.

California Maintains More Expansive View of Liability in Dog-Bite Cases
In almost every state a guiding principle for liability in dog-bite cases is the so-called vicious propensity rule, in which owners of domestic animals that display vicious propensities, such as a dog snarling or growling, are strictly liable for any injuries the animal may inflict. However, in California, strict liability is imposed for dogs with no known vicious propensities, as detailed in California Civil Code 3342 (a):

The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness or the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

Whatever the circumstances behind a dog attack, it is important that the victim seeks experienced legal counsel as well as medical attention as soon as possible. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, please call the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Brod Law Firm for a free consultation.
-James Ambroff-Tahan contributed to this article.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyer on Assigning Legal Responsibility in Dog Bite Cases

New Information on Dog Mauling of Bay Area Boy Refocuses Attention on an Old Problem

In Some Cases, a Dog Bite May Lead to Punitive Damages

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