Dog Breeds

Legalities of Owning a Vicious Dog

The only defense a dog has against a human being is to bite, with dog bite laws intended for dog bite victims and dog owners. Unfortunately, of the 150 dog breeds in the United States, specifically two dog breeds–pit bulls and pit bull mixes–account for over 70% of all dog bites ( With most fatal attacks by pit bulls, other vicious breeds are labeled as the Chow, Akita and Rottweiler, most attacks occur within the dog’s own yard.

With so many shelters adopting out repeated dog biting breeds to innocent dog owners or vicious dog owners to eliminate overcrowding, dog bite laws are beginning to change to target the vicious dog owner instead of just the vicious dog.


The state of Nebraska has developed a new law regarding vicious dog owners with a record against them of owning biting or attacking dogs:

“Under the bill (LB494) sent to Gov. Dave Heineman for his approval, the owner of a dog deemed dangerous because of a previous attack could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine if the dog attacked again and injured someone. After a third attack by the dog, the owner could face a felony penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.”

Generally in most states, vicious dogs are usually euthanized with their “dangerous label” disappearing at death. Meanwhile, the owner has the right to go out and buy another vicious dog breed (such as a pit bull or a pit bull mix). Each dog begins with a clean record according to the law. Nebraska’s new law has changed this factor in their state, with LB494 targeting offending vicious dog owners in two ways: (1) the offender is denied ownership for ten years with a record of owning a biting vicious dog; and (2) the offender  is penalized if they have  a history of owning vicious dogs who attack.


Criminal and civil law for dog bites are found in all court decisions, state statutes, and country/city ordinances even though they vary in different jurisdictions. With most jurisdictions following the old English “one bite rule”, the dog owner or harborer is shielded from liability, civilly and criminally “until” they obtain knowledge their dog is a dangerous dog or a vicious dog. Once they have this information, they automatically become liable for all bite injuries stemming from their dog[s].

Regarding compensation to the bitten or injured individual, approximately 2/3 of the U.S. states have developed statues that have either  eliminated or modified this ancient “one bite rule”. If so, generally the dog owner is then liable for ALL dog bites from their dog as long as the individual has not trespassed nor provoked the dog. Yet some states under their dog bite statue make the dog owner automatically liable for the act regardless what the condition or limitation is.  Almost all states make dog owners liable for any injuries which are cause by negligent handling or confinement of their dog or by violating a leash law.


  • 78% of dog attacks occur in a dog’s own yard when their owner is not home.
  • Stay away from specific breeds in such locations: Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas or Chows.
  • Dogs who are in a pack are more apt to attack than just one dog.
  • Dogs who are chained or tethered are more likely to attack.
  • Unneutered male dogs are more likely to attack than any other dog.
  • Dogs residing in new homes under 60 days will attack more readily out of fear and confusion.


Nebraska law LB494

Dog Bite Law


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  1. April 19, 2014 at 6:00 am — Reply

    […] Laws on specific dog breeds need to be checked out before bringing one into the state, especially aggressive breeds. Dog bite laws are another area that needs to be checked out, as they vary in laws and vary in […]

  2. September 22, 2009 at 7:49 am — Reply

    I think that any dog can be loved by it’s owner and it is always the best and well behaved dog in the world. I have had lots of dogs over my 62 years, some good and some bad. Some that listed and pay attention, others that do their own thing. But the owner should be held accountable for his dogs actions. If he poops in the neighbors yard, he should clean it up, if he bites someone, he should take care of the medical bill and treatment to follow. He should also have the proper shots, and should quiet the dog from barking. Just my thoughts. What’s yours?

    • September 22, 2009 at 9:27 am — Reply

      I feel that regardless where your dog toilets, the owner should clean it up. Number one, the dog owner should not just turn his dog loose in the morning or any time and let him do his business “anywhere else” if the dog is not contained in his own yard. If the neighbor wants to go out and clean up poop…he probably would get a dog of his own.

      If a dog owner does not have the consideration or intelligence to be fully responsible for his own dog, he literally should not have one. Period. This involves attempting to keep the dog from any unnecessary barking (as all dogs bark to inform their owners), feeding and watering the dog adequately, providing decent shelter, and keeping his shots or any medical care up-to-date….and specifically loving and caring for their animal on an emotional level. If they can do this last step, the previous ones would automatically fall into place.

  3. July 10, 2009 at 10:07 am — Reply

    I owned two pit bulls who were the kindest and sweetest dogs, and who were friendly to other people. But most vicious dogs, not just biting dogs, are either trained to be weapons (as Marita says) or have bonded so much with their owner they will attack anything they feel seems to be a threat to their owner. Dog biters who bite people and vicious dogs who attack and kill people are two entirely different types of dogs.

    The background of a cocker is to hunt and kill game, while pit bulls were originally bred as protectors and to fight/kill. To a little chihuahua who is only eight inches off the ground, anything taller than they are is a threat. I personally have known people who have had vicious breeds of dogs in their home for years, and then suddenly that dog would attack out of nowhere. There is no guarantee a “known” vicious pit bull will never eventually kill someone, and that is the fear and the threat.

    his article addresses a pit bull who has no background of biting, attacking or killing and has not broken the law. It also addresses an owner who has owned a pit bull or vicious dog with such a background and now will be punished in NE, as will the dog itself. This is to protect the life a a baby, an infant or a child who cannot defend themselves against such a dog and from an owner who cannot handle their attacking dog.

  4. Marita
    July 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm — Reply

    Interesting facts about owning vicious dogs. Around here (Los Angeles) people use their dogs as weapons – I wish the laws would be even stricter.

  5. July 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm — Reply

    pardon me! pit bulls rank top among he best scorers in temperament tests of any breed!! Cocker Spaniels and Chihuahuas far ourank pit bulls as biting offenders. Bad publicity about Pitbulls is rampant and does a tremendous disservice to one of the most loyal and heroic breeds in existence…for instance, one which includes several who have been awarded military honors for valor.

    I beg humans to do the research themselves… regardless of what so called fear mongering experts say. Some of my best friends are pit bulls.

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