Yes, caretaker was the “owner”: No, caretaker was not the “owner”:
Docherty v. Sadler: The court held that the caretaker was an “owner” under the Illinois statute because he had the express responsibilities of feeding the dog, giving it water, and letting it out into the yard. The court concluded that these responsibilities of care gave him the status of “owner.” Steinberg v. Petta: The court held that the defendant was not an “owner” under the Illinois statute because, as an absentee landlord, he merely allowed his tenants to keep their dog on the premises. The court characterized the allowing of the dog as “passive ownership,” which did not satisfy the measure of care required for liability.
Distinguishing Analogizing
Docherty—JC is not like the caretaker in this case because she did not voluntarily assume owner-like responsibility for the care of the dog on this occasion when the attack occurred. The dog was dropped off at her house without her knowledge. Although she voluntarily gave the dog a treat and water, she had not assumed the responsibility for this care. In Docherty, the caretaker had assumed the position of a pet-sitter while the legal owner was on vacation. Steinberg—Arguably JC is like the landlord in this case because she merely allowed the dog to stay on her premises. She did not, in this particular instance, assume any level of care for the animal although the opposition could argue that she did assume a level of care when she allowed the dog to remain on her property and gave the dog a treat and some water.