Much has been said and written by courts and authors on different aspects of the question of liability for injuries by animals, but there remains the task of fitting all these pieces into a complete pattern. The general subject of liability of the possessor of harm-producing animals has been treated on two separate and independent theories: (1) trespass, for injuries by marauding cattle; (2) case, for harms caused by animals other than trespassing cattle. The explanation for the separation of these two bodies of law is in part historical, the possessor of straying cattle being historically so identified with them that their trespass was his own act--"for I am the trespasser with my beasts" --and, also, that the interests protected are altogether dissimilar. In cattle-trespass law the interest served is the interest in the exclusive and uninterrupted enjoyment of one's land, and in the law redressing harms caused by animals otherwise than by trespassing cattle the interest is primarily that in personal security and, occasionally, the safety of one's personal property. It is to this latter topic that this study is directed, excluding from consideration the rather well-defined principles of cattle-trespass.
Mary C. McNeely,
A FOOTNOTE ON DANGEROUS ANIMALS,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol37/iss8/2