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 (dogsbite.org). 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.
DOG BITING LAW LB494 IN NEBRASKA
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.
ONE BITE RULE
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.
SIGNS TO WATCH FOR AGAINST ATTACKING DOGS
- 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.