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Former French President Jacques Chirac was bitten by his own dog that was reportedly being treated for "depression". According to the Fox News story, this was no little nip to cover with a band-aid, either, as it appears Chirac was "rushed to a hospital". Jacques Chirac's wife, Bernadette, said that their white Maltese poodle, perhaps appropriately named "Sumo", has a history of frenzied fits and became increasingly prone to making "vicious, unprovoked attacks" despite receiving treatment with anti-depressants.
The story elaborates that:
"Mrs. Chirac, 74, did not reveal where the former president was bitten, but said, "the dog went for him for no apparent reason."
'We were aware the animal was unpredictable and is being treated with pills for depression. My husband was bitten quite badly but he is certain to make a full recovery in weeks.'"
Although French law might differ on this point, in the United States owning a dog with a history of biting humans leaves the owner completely liable for significant damages, perhaps even punitive damages, in the event their dog ends up biting someone. For that matter, many states impose strict liability on an owner for dog bites, even if they had absolutely no knowledge of the dog's viciousness.
Although Chirac and his wife are clearly not keeping their poodle's vicious tendencies a secret, often when people suffer dog bites they have no idea whether the dog at issue had any history of biting or was already considered "vicious". Some common factors that can be used to demonstrate an owner knew or should have known of his or her animal's vicious propensities are:
- the breed and size of the dog
- the purpose for which the dog is kept
- the dog has a history of fighting with other animals
- warning sign(s) on the owner's premises
- the owner has given warnings to other strangers about the dog
Below are some more helpful links regarding dog bites and laws.