Who is liable if my pet hurts my roommates infant if my roommate is (knowingly) increasing the level of danger?

I have pet rats. I have had these rats for a few years now. About five months ago, my friend asked if she and her young baby could move in with me because her living situation was stressful and potentially dangerous. When she asked, she knew that I had pet rats and what kind of cage I kept the rats in. I keep my rats in a feisty ferret cage (Image here: http://www.petworldshop.com/pictures/feisty-ferret... which an infant could easily get their fingers into. I had also informed her before we moved in that the rats most likely will bite anything stuck between the bars of the cage, assuming that it's food.

When we moved in together, I constructed a "rat barrier" around the rat cage. A few months later, she took it down, saying that it was "ugly". Now that the baby knows how to crawl, all that he wants to do is put his fingers in the rat cage. We put the barrier back up, but she actually deconstructed it after about a week and threw part of it away.

I have told her now that she needs to buy baby gates that she can tolerate in order to ensure her infants safety. She has yet to order any baby gates and it does not seem likely that she is about to. Her baby is a fast crawler and she is constantly leaving him alone in the same room as the cages for periods of more than a minute (way more than enough time for him to get his fingers in the cage).

Note: My rats do not have bad temperaments, they just tend to assume that anything stuck between the bars of their cage is food.

So here are my qeustions:

1. If one of my rats bites her infant, am I legally liable? I feel that I have done enough on my end to protect her infant and that she has not done enough on her end.

2. Also, she has advised me that she would hurt or kill my rats if they did any damage to her infant. Would I be able to pursue her legally, considering that I have done plenty to inform her of the dangers they would impose, that she knew the danger that they imposed beforehand, and that I have attempted to protect her infant from possible danger and that she removed those precautions?

9 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes, you are liable for the conduct of your rats but at the same time, your roommate must take reasonable precautions to protect her own child. And if her child is bitten by your rats but at the same time, she has taken down the rat barrier, she is going to have a hard time suing you. Further, she doesn't have the right to take the law into her own hands by killing your rats if they bite her child. She could be and should be prosecuted for animal cruelty if she does so!

    Your friend is unreasonable and she is taking advantage of your good nature. You took her in when she needed help and this is how she repays you....by threatening to kill your pets. And she is asking for trouble by removing the rat barrier just because she thinks it is ugly. I think that you should evict her and let her find a place that is better suited to her and her child. Evict her now before "something" happens to your rats. Good luck!

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    SHE was aware that you had pet rats and SHE still decided to move in with you AND her baby! YOU took precautions so the baby, who is now crawling around, doesn't get bitten, that''s good! But, your roommate DECIDED the rat barrier was ugly, and took it upon herself to remove it! HEH! it's YOUR house! I would have told her NO! it stays up as long as you are living here with the baby!!! SHE is putting her child in danger, not you! Besides, if she doesn't want the barrier up, then SHE should be watching that kid 24/7! My advise to you, for your own piece of mind, is ask her to leave!!! Your rats were there first, and why put yourself in jeopardy to get sued! It seems like SHE is taking over your place, and her threatening to kill your rats would be the last straw for me!!! Don't procrastinate about this situation! The longer she stays the more trouble you will have!!! Keep the rats and get rid of her and the baby!

  • 10 years ago

    I guess you could be sued but she also has a duty of care toward her own child, and was well aware of the danger posed by the rats.

    She does not seem to be cooperating with you on this and the time has come for her to leave.

    Personally I would not blame the rats for finger-biting.

    But lawyers can make something out of nothing, especially the more they are paid. Sooner she goes the better, in my opinion. She has gotten too comfortable in what is after all your house. I wonder what her previous "dangerous" situation was - crocodiles?

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    If one of my rats bites her infant, am I legally liable?

    I think not. They are in cage. It is the responsibility of the person supervising the child to keep him away from the cage. She lives there with the baby of her own free will. Keeping rats in a cage is not negligence, allowing an infant to but his fingers in the cage is.

    "she has advised me that she would hurt or kill my rats if they did any damage to her infant."

    It would not be legal for her to harm your animals unless she was defending herself or her child from an attack. This would never happen because they are in a cage. You should ask this woman to move out.

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  • Wiser
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    If she doesn't seem concerned about it..and you honestly warned her, I would definitely put something specific in writing. that she is aware of the danger and will not hold you responsible(as long as they are in the cage...never out.). Then date it and have both of you sign it. Or sign a refusal not to sign.Do this as a caution for both parties...if the understanding is breached. Or you could move the rats out of harm's way.

  • paul
    Lv 5
    10 years ago

    i had an evil dog once-and it was in a high fence,i put signs out saying beware-biting dog,no tresspassing.i was called on and given a ticket becuz i KNOWINGLY had a animal that bites.i was told if i took the signs down then it would be fine-yes you are liable to an extent and so is she for child endangerment..she removed the precautions which shows she doesnt care about her kid or your pets...time to ask her to move or,ask her to sign an agreement that she acknowledges her responsibilities with her child and your rats,,sign it in front of a notary and its binding and u can take it to court if needed,,if she doesnt sign,evict her,u dont need a lawsuit involving a child getting bit by any animal..the child comes first..

    Source(s): had a biting dog,it bit someone who came over,they were in my house,so they couldnt do much of anything..
  • My Zoo
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    I would tell her to find new living arrangements because you don't feel it's going to work out with your pets and her baby. Or you could try to keep your cage in a room with the door closed.Either one or the other or the baby will get bitten and you will find your pets dead or you will have to defend yourself in court and the proof of burden will be on you.

  • 10 years ago

    1. its YOUR pet you are responsible for its actions so YES you are legally liable.

    2. i wouldnt blame her for wanting to dispose of your pets but she obvioulsy wasnt keeping a watchful eye on HER child as well...

    what you need to do is to put the cage where the infant cant reach it. problem solved. but legally if anything happens to anyone you are responsible. since its YOUR pet. but i dont think it will go far since you did try to put things up--even though it wasnt good enough--she DID take the barrier down putting her childs safety at risk.

  • J P
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Forget the legal question. Forget bickering with your roommate. Do whatever it takes to keep that kid from having its fingers bitten by rats.

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