Dangerous Dog: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
City of Garland v. White 368 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. Civ. App. 1963).

Police officers were trespassers and could be held civilly liable for damages when they entered a dog owner's property with the intent to unlawfully kill the dog. Reports had been made that the dog was attacking other animals but because the attacks were not imminent, in progress, or recent, the killing of the dog was not lawful.

Watson v. State of Texas 369 S.W.3d 865 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012)

Defendants were convicted of attack by dog resulting in death (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.005(a)(1)) after a 7-year-old was killed by several of defendants' pit bull dogs. On this appeal, appellants contend that the statute fails to define the terms “attack” and “unprovoked,” and that it fails to specify what conduct is prohibited, resulting in arbitrary enforcement. Thus, jurors could have determined different definitions of the elements of the offense, violating the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas and United States Constitutions. The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, finding, "[t]he statute contains objective criteria for determining what conduct is prohibited and therefore does not permit arbitrary enforcement." The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision stating that the Dog Attack statute did not violate Due Process and that the defendants' convictions did not violate the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas or the U.S. constitution.

Marek v. Burmester 37 A.D.3d 668, 830 N.Y.S.2d 340, 2007 N.Y. Slip Op. 01527

In this New York case, a bicyclist was injured after allegedly being chased and attacked by defendant's two dogs. The plaintiff-bicyclist sued to recover damages for his injuries. The Supreme Court , Putnam County, granted a defense motion for summary judgment, and the bicyclist appealed. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that a genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether defendants had constructive notice of the dogs' proclivity to chase bicyclists on the roadway and as to whether those actions put others at risk of harm.

Puckett v. Miller 381 N.E.2d 1087 (Ind.App.,1978)

In this Indiana case, a dog owner brought action against a farmer for the negligent destruction of his two "coon dogs." The lower court granted the farmer's motion for involuntary dismissal, and dog owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff's two dogs, at time they were shot by defendant farmer, were “roaming unattended.” This meant that an attempt to find them had been abandoned, and they were, according to defendant's uncontradicted testimony, trying to get into defendant's chicken enclosure. Thus, defendant farmer was protected in his shooting of those dogs by state statutes that provided that any dog known to have worried any livestock or fowl or any dog found roaming over the country unattended may be lawfully killed.

American Dog Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Lynn 404 Mass. 73, 533 N.E.2d 642 (Mass.,1989)

This is an appeal by American Dog Owners Association from a judgment upholding two of three city of Lynn ordinances which restrict ownership of certain dogs within the city limits. The lower court found that one of three animal control ordinances regulating “pit bulls” was unconstitutional. First, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the first two ordinances were repealed by passage of third which was intended to treat subject of pit bulls comprehensively. However, the court found that the third ordinance which attempted to define pit bull by breed was unconstitutionally vague. The court stated that, "if identification by breed name does not provide sufficient ascertainable standards for enforcement, then the “definition” of “Pit Bull” in the fourth ordinance, which is devoid of any reference to a particular breed, but relies instead on the even less clear 'common understanding and usage' of the term 'Pit Bull,' is not sufficiently definite to meet due process requirements."

Galgano v. Town of North Hempstead 41 A.D.3d 536 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2007)

In this New York Case, the plaintiffs appeal from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County which granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint for personal injuries and damages due to a dog bite. The court reaffirmed New York law that to recover in strict liability in tort for a dog bite or attack, the plaintiff must establish that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner knew or should have known of the dog's propensities. The fact that the subject dog was brought to the animal shelter because another dog in the owner's household did not get along with it is not indicative that it had vicious propensities.

Becker v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. 416 N.W.2d 906 (Wis.,1987)

Motorist sued dog owner after he was injured in a car accident allegedly caused by dog. The Court of Appeals held that the “injury by dog” statute creates strict liability for any injury or damage caused by dog if owner was negligent (with public policy exceptions). Here, the dog owner was not strictly liable because he was not negligent when his dog escaped from its enclosure.

Earl v. Piowaty 42 A.D.3d 865 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.) Plaintiffs' son was seriously injured when he was bitten in the face by a dog that belonged to defendant Susan Piowaty.  Plaintiffs brought action on behalf of their son against Piowaty and the animal shelter from which Piowaty had adopted the dog two weeks prior to the incident, alleging that they had constructive notice of the dog's vicious propensities because of a minor incident earlier that week.  However, this court agreed with the denial of plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment because there remains a triable issue as to the defendants' notice of the dog's vicious propensities at the time of the son's injury.
Motta v. Menendez 46 A.D.3d 685 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2007)

This New York case arose following an incident that occurred on December 13, 2003, in which the appellant's two pit bull terriers entered the petitioner's property, and one of appellant's dogs ("Duke") attacked and injured the petitioner's pet dog. Following a special proceeding, the lower court determined that appellant's pit bull terrier named “Duke” was a dangerous dog and directed that it be destroyed. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that the dangerous dog statute in effect on December 13, 2003, did not provide that one dog attacking another was conduct subject to the penalty of destruction (Agriculture and Markets Law former §§ 108, 121).

DeRobertis by DeRobertis v. Randazzo 462 A.2d 1260 (N.J. 1983)

The principal issue in this New Jersey case is the liability of a dog owner to an infant plaintiff bitten by the owner's dog. At trial the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, and the Appellate Division, in an unreported opinion, affirmed. A factual issue existed at the trial, however, as to whether the infant plaintiff was lawfully on the property of the owner, but the trial court did not submit that question to the jury. The omission is important because the "dog-bite" statute, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, imposes absolute liability on an owner whose dog bites someone who is "lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog." If the plaintiff was a trespasser, he was not lawfully on the property, and liability should not be determined under the statute but according to common-law principles.  It was necessary to find that the invitation to infant plaintiff to be on defendant's property extended to the area where the dog was chained.

Ott v. Pittman 463 S.E.2d 101 (S.C.App.,1995)

In this South Carolina case, a dog owner brought a negligence action against a hog farmer who shot two of the owner's champion "Treeing Walker Coonhound" dogs. The farmer counterclaimed, alleging damages for the dogs' action and malicious prosecution. The lower court ordered judgment for the dogs' owner (Ott) in the amount of $19,800, finding Pittman 90% liable. On the farmer's appeal, this court upheld the $19,800 award, finding sufficient support based on expert testimony about the specific qualities of the breed.

McBride v. Orr 466 A.2d 952 (N.H., 1983)

In this New Hampshire case, defendant animal control officer killed plaintiff’s dog believing that it was in pursuit of a deer. Defendant claimed immunity pursuant to a state statute. The Court reversed and remanded for a determination of damages for the plaintiff. The Court went on to state that the purpose of the statute was not to authorize defendant’s killing of plaintiff’s dog when the dog was no longer pursuing the deer.

Rowlette v. Paul 466 S.E.2d 37 (Ga. 1995) This Georgia case involved a dog bite to a person who went to went to the Pauls' house in order to verify and update information for the Oglethorpe County Tax Assessor's Office.  The court held that in the absence of any evidence showing that the owners of a dog had knowledge, prior to a mauling incident, that their dog had ever bitten another human being, the owners of the dog were not liable to the victim even though the dog's presence on the premises where the incident occurred was in violation of the county leash law.  In order to support an action for damages under OCGA § 51-2-7, it is necessary to show that the dog was vicious or dangerous and that the owner had knowledge of this fact.
Smegal v. Gettys 48 So.3d 431 (La.App. 1 Cir., 2010)

Plaintiff Steven Smegal appeals a judgment that found him 50% at fault in a dog bite case. The incident occurred after the dog owned by Smegal's neighbor (Gettys) ran into the street and was hit by a school bus. Smegal approached the injured dog too closely and was bitten on his ankle. The Court of Appeal, First Circuit affirmed the lower court's finding. The court held that Smegal's actions did not constitute provocation where the dog's owners were also approaching the injured dog in an "equally provocative" manner. As to allocation of fault, the court found that while it was Gettys' failure to restrain the dog that was the ultimate cause of the accident, Smegal chose to approach the injured dog despite his training and knowledge as a police officer. Thus, this set of facts supported the trial court's allocation of comparative fault.

Boosman v. Moudy 488 S.W.2d 917 (Mo.App. 1972)
In this Missouri case, an action was brought on behalf of a child who was bitten by a dog (a large dog of the malemute breed). After the lower court entered judgment against the dog owner, the owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff's evidence demonstrated that the dog had become ill-natured and had acquired the persistent menacing habit of growling, bristling and snapping at people. Such behavior was repeatedly brought to the attention of the owner's wife prior to time dog bit child. This evidence, together with owner's evidence that his daughter had encouraged the dog to play tug-of-war with her clothing, supported the verdict in favor of the plaintiff that the injury to child resulted from the propensity of the dog to do bodily harm, either in anger or from playfulness.
Morgan v. Marquis 50 A.3d 1 (Me., 2012)

After being bit in the face from a dog she was caring for, the plaintiff sued the dog's owner on the theories of strict liability, negligence and statutory, 7 M.R.S. § 3961(1), liability. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims rejecting plaintiff's claim that pit bull dogs are inherently abnormally dangerous dogs. Finding insufficient evidence that the defendant knew his dog was likely to bite someone, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine affirmed the lower court's decision on the strict liability claim. However, the court vacated the lower court's decision towards the negligence and statutory liability claim because genuine issues of material fact remained.

Tracey v. Solesky 50 A.3d 1075 (Md., 2012)

 

In this Maryland case, the Court of Appeals establishes a new standard of liability for a landlord who has knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull dog and also modifies the common law liability as it relates to the pit bull breed of dogs. In doing so, the Court now holds that because of the "aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflect serious and sometimes fatal injuries," pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bulls are now categorized as "inherently dangerous." Upon a plaintiff's sufficient proof that an attacking dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, a person who knows that the dog is of the pit bull breed, including a landlord, is strictly liable for damages caused to the plaintiff who was attacked. The case was remanded to trial court with this modification to common law.

Jacobsen v. Schwarz 50 A.D.3d 964 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2008)

Plaintiff appeals an order granting defendant's motion for summary judgment that dismissed her personal injury case. The plaintiff commenced this action after she was bitten by defendant's dog while working on a computer at defendant's house. This court found that summary judgment was not appropriate because the defendant warned plaintiff that the dog was possessive about her ball and not to touch it. These warnings along with the dog's actions with the ball may give rise to a finding that the defendant knew or should have known that the dog possessed a vicious propensity or a proclivity to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm.

Chee v. Amanda Goldt Property Management 50 Cal.Rptr.3d 40 (Cal.App. 1 Dist., 2006), Plaintiff, Lila Chee, a resident and owner of a condominium unit, appealed from a judgment entered in favor of all defendants on her complaint seeking damages for personal injuries she suffered when a dog belonging to Olga Kiymaz, a tenant of another unit in the same complex, jumped on Chee. In affirming the lower court's award of summary judgment, this court held that the landlord had no duty in absence of landlord's actual knowledge of dog's dangerous propensities. Further, the landlord was not liable to owner for nuisance. Finally, the condominium covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R's) did not impose vicarious liability on landlord.
Lockett v. Hill 51 P.3d 5 (Or.App.,2002)

In this Oregon case, plaintiff sued defendant after defendant's pit bulls mauled plaintiff's cat to death while they were running loose on plaintiff's property. The trial court found that defendant was negligent and awarded plaintiffs $1,000 in compensatory damages but denied plaintiffs' claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of companionship. Plaintiff sought appeal of the trial court's denial of damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) and loss of companionship. The appellate court affirmed, holding that the cat owner was not entitled to recover damages for emotional distress.

Trager v. Thor 516 N.W.2d 69 (Mich.,1994)

In this Michigan case involving an action for damages after personal injury, the father of the dog’s owner was visiting his son's home when he agreed to supervise the dog while his son and daughter-in-law went shopping.   The n eighbor’s child was subsequently bitten by the dog, which had been put by defendant into a bedroom. This court held that the defendant, as a temporary caretaker of the dog, could not be held to the strict liability standard of an owner keeper, but could be liable under theory of negligence. Thus, a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether the father was negligent in fulfilling his duty of care in supervising the dog, which precluded summary judgment in a negligence action.

DeVaul v. Carvigo Inc. 526 N.Y.S.2d 483 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,1988)

This New York case involved a dog bite victim who brought an action against the owner to recover for personal injuries. The Supreme Court, Nassau County entered judgment in favor of owner. On appeal with the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the court held that the viciousness of German shepherd dogs was not appropriate subject of judicial notice. The court found that there is no authority for the proposition that judicial notice should be taken "as to the ferocity of any particular type of domestic animal."

Hoesch v. Broward County 53 So.3d 1177 (Fla.App. 4 Dist., 2011)

A Broward County, Florida ordinance defines a dangerous dog as “any dog that . . . [h]as killed or caused the death of a domestic animal in one incident.” Plaintiff Brian Hoesch’s dog escaped from Hoesch’s backyard and attacked and killed a neighbor’s cat. Prior to this incident, the dog had never been declared “dangerous” by any governmental authority. Hoesch requested a hearing after Broward’s animal control division notified Hoesch of its intent to destroy his dog. After a judgment in favor of Broward County, Hoesch contends that both county ordinances conflict with state law, section 767.11(1)(b), which defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that “[h]as more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal . . . .” The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, concluded “that Broward County ordinance sections 4-2(k)(2) and 4-12(j)(2) are null and void insofar as they conflict with state law.” 

State of Florida v. Peters 534 So.2d 760 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 1988). This is an appeal from an order of the county court invalidating a City of North Miami ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs.  The ordinance in question, City of North Miami Ordinance No. 422.5, regulates the ownership of pit bulls by requiring their owners to carry insurance or furnish other evidence of financial responsibility, register their pit bulls with the City, and confine the dogs indoors or in a locked pen.  The court dismissed defendants claims that the ordinance violates equal protection and due process, and that the ordinance's definition of a pit bull is on its face unconstitutionally vague.
Christian v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc. 54 A.D.3d 707 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2008)

This New York case consists of an action to recover damages for personal injuries. The plaintiffs appeal the granting of the motion of the defendant for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him and the cross motion of the defendants Petco. The infant plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant Kenneth Coughlin at a Petco store. The court held that the evidence submitted established that the defendants were not aware that this dog had ever bitten anyone or exhibited any aggressive behavior.

Webber v. Patton 558 P.2d 130 (Kan. 1976)

Veterinary costs and consequential losses are also allowed in determining damages, according this Kansas case. It should be noted that the animal at issue here was a domestic pig versus a companion animal, and the award of damages was secured by a statute that allows recovery for all damages for attacks on domestic animals by dogs.

Farrior v. Payton 562 P.2d 779 (Hawaii, 1977)

This Hawaii case involves a suit against owners of dog to recover for injuries sustained when the plaintiffs, in an attempt to avoid what was believed to be an imminent attack by dog, fell off a natural rock wall.  Defendants' property abutted this rock wall and defendants considered those people who used the rock wall "trespassers."  After defendant's motion for a directed verdict were granted, the plaintiffs appealed.  On appeal, the Supreme Court observed that, in an action against an owner or harborer of a dog for injury inflicted by such animal, defendant's scienter (i. e. actual or constructive knowledge) of the vicious or dangerous propensities of the dog is (except where removed by statute) an essential element of the cause of action and a necessary prerequisite to recovery.  The evidence in the record established the fact that the Payton family not only knew of their dog's propensity to run and bark at strangers utilizing the 'short-cut' via the human-made seawall and the natural rock wall, but also expected such activity from their German shepherd dog.  Indeed, it was predictable that Mrs. Farrior would become frightened and would retreat to a precarious position.

Dias v. City and County of Denver 567 F.3d 1169 (C.A.10 (Colo.),2009)

The Tenth Circuit took up a challenge to Denver's breed-specific ban against pitbull dogs. The plaintiffs, former residents of Denver, contended the ban is unconstitutionally vague on its face and deprives them of substantive due process. The district court dismissed both claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) before plaintiffs presented evidence to support their claims. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court erred by prematurely dismissing the case at the 12(b)(6) stage. The Tenth Circuit agreed in part, finding that while the plaintiffs lack standing to seek prospective relief for either claim because they have not shown a credible threat of future prosecution, taking the factual allegations in the complaint as true the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the pit bull ban is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

Westberry v. Blackwell 577 P.2d 75 (Or. 1978)

In this Oregon case, plaintiff filed this action to recover for personal injuries sustained when she was bitten by defendants' dog. The complaint alleged a cause of action for strict liability and another for negligence. The trial court granted a judgment of involuntary nonsuit on both causes of action. On appeal, this court found the previous biting, which had occurred only one hour before, could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the dog had dangerous propensities, and that the defendants had knowledge of them. Thus, the court found that the involuntary nonsuit on the strict liability cause was improperly granted. Further, the question of whether the owner, who knew the dog had bitten the guest while on her way into the owner's house, was negligent in failing to control or confine the dog, was for the jury. Reversed and remanded.

Folkers v. City of Waterloo, Iowa 582 F.Supp.2d 1141 (N.D.Iowa,2008)

Plaintiff brought civil rights action against the City of Waterloo, Iowa (City) alleging procedural and substantive due process violations after Animal Control Officers seized Plaintiff’s dog and detained the dog for one hundred days while an appeal was pending.   On Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, the United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division, found that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause did not apply to Plaintiff’s claim, the Animal Control Officers were acting under color of state law, and that the one hundred day detention of Plaintiff’s dog was a meaningful interference with Plaintiff’s possessory interest in his dog.   The Court also found that Plaintiff’s right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment was satisfied by the post-deprivation hearing provided Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s claim that the decision to detain Plaintiff’s dog was unreasonable or arbitrary, implicated the “unreasonable seizure” provisions of the Fourth Amendment, rather than the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that even if the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment were otherwise applicable, Plaintiff would not have been entitled to relief under the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Brent v. Kimball 60 Ill. 211 (1871)

This was an action of trespass, brought by appellant against appellee, for the alleged wrongful killing, by the latter, of appellant's dog. Plaintiff sought recovery for his dog that was shot and killed when it entered into defendant/neighbor’s backyard. The Court held that the plaintiff could recover at least nominal damages, regardless of the fact that the animal had no actual market value.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga. 2004)

Plaintiff brought claims against her tenant neighbor and the property owner after she was viciously attacked by her tenant neighbor's four pit bulls.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the property owner.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the property owner was an out-of -possession landlord.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga.App., 2004)

In this Georgia case, after sustaining severe injuries inflicted during a vicious attack by four pit bulls, Helene Ranwez sued her tenant neighbor and the owner of the rental property, Scott Roberts.  The crucial question in this case was whether an out-of-possession landlord has liability for a tenant's dog bite.  Roberts contended that because he had relinquished possession and control of the premises to his tenant, Glenn Forrest, he could not be held liable for Ranwez's injuries as a matter of law.  In affirming the trial court's decision, the appellate court held that an out-of-possession landlord's tort liability to third persons is subject only to the statutory provisions of OCGA § 44-7-14, which makes it clear that a landlord who relinquishes possession of the premises cannot be liable to third parties for damages arising from the negligence of the tenant.

Gibson v. Rezvanpour 601 S.E.2d 848 (Ga. 2004)

The prospective buyer of a home was bitten by the homeowner's dog.  The prospective buyer filed a claim against the homeowners, real estate agents, real estate brokers and the real estate agency.  The State Court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

Flint v. Holbrook 608 N.E.2d 809 (Ohio App. 2 Dist.,1992)

In this Ohio case, Lorraine Flint was bitten by a pit bull dog owned by Carl Holbrook (Flint was bitten and injured by Holbrook's dog in the alley between her residence and Holbrook's).  Flint then brought suit against Holbrook and Turner Patterson, as the titled owner of the premises where the dog was kept.  Patterson was essentially selling the property to Holbrook on land contract.  In this case, the court held it was evident that the land contract agreement effectively transferred the ownership and equitable title to the property to Holbrook.  Holbrook had exclusive possession and control of the premises upon which he kept his pit bull.  While Patterson maintained the bare legal title as security for his debt, he exercised no control over the property; no clause affording him possession or control of the property was included in the land contract agreement.

Vukic v. Brunelle 609 A.2d 938 (R.I. 1992) This case involves a defendants' appeal from a judgment entered in the Superior Court wherein the dog officer of the town of Lincoln was found to have negligently destroyed a Great Dane dog and her pup.  The court held that the Rhode Island statute that mandated an officer kill a dog at large preempted the local ordinance that allowed impoundment.  Despite the dog owners' arguments that the statute was outdated and archaic, the court refused to invalidate it.  It thus reversed the jury award to the dog owners.
Wade v. Rich 618 N.E.2d 1314 (Ill.App. 5 Dist.,1993)

Plaintiff sued dog owners for injuries from a dog attack.  The jury ruled in favor of plaintiff for medical expenses, and plaintiff sought a new trial as to damages only.  The court held that a new trial on damages was appropriate because the jury's failure to award damages for pain and suffering was against the manifest weight of evidence as defendant's liability was established by the viciousness of the dog repeatedly biting plaintiff about the head and face, which was out of proportion to the unintentional act of plaintiff falling onto the sleeping dog.  Unintentional or accidental acts can
constitute provocation, but not if the dog responds with a vicious attack, as it did here, that is out of all proportion to the unintentional acts involved.

County of Pasco v. Riehl 620 So.2d 229 (Fla.App. 2 Dist.,1993)

When owners of a "dangerous dog" attempted to enjoin such a classification, this court held the dangerous dog statute was unconstitutional.  Because dogs are subjects of property and ownership, the owner's deprivation of a dog entitles him to procedural due process.

Williams v. Spinola 622 P.2d 322 (Or.App., 1981)

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding plaintiff $3,600 in compensatory and $4,000 in punitive damages for the unlawful killing of plaintiff's dogs. Defendant contended at trial that the dogs were trying molest her sheep. With regard to defendant's claim on appeal that punitive damages were not appropriate in this case, the court agreed that the issue should not have been submitted to the jury. The court affirmed the jury's finding with regard to denial of defendant's directed verdict, and reversed the award of punitive damages.

Hannan v. City of Minneapolis 623 N.W.2d 281 (Minn.App. 2001)

This case held that a state statute permitting the control and ultimate destruction of dangerous animals does not preclude municipal controls that add to the breadth of public powers without regulating conditions expressly prohibited by statute.  In the case, a dog owner sought review of municipal animal control division's order for destruction of his dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the ordinance providing for destruction of dangerous dog did not conflict with statute and thus was not preempted by statute.  The court stated that, after comparing the ordinance with the state statute, it was evident that the local provision is merely additional and complementary to the statute, permitting local action that the state statute does not prohibit.  In fact, state law expressly provides for local regulation, giving municipalities full authority to regulate "potentially dangerous dogs," as long as the regulations are not breed-specific.

State v. Johnson 628 P.2d 789 (Or. 1981)

A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.

City of Pierre v. Blackwell 635 N.W.2d 581 (S.D. 2001)

In this South Dakota case, the owner of a dog declared by an animal control officer to be "dangerous" pursuant to Pierre City Ordinance § 10-3-111 challenged the conviction on the basis that the ordinances themselves were unconstitutional and that his constitutional right to procedural due process has been violated. The court held that the ordinances themselves were constitutional, noting the broad authority municipalities have to regulate pet ownership as a legitimate exercise of police power.  The court reversed and remanded for determination on the factual issue of the dog's dangerousness.  Specifically, if the City opts for a civil hearing, absent exigent circumstances, the owner of a dog is entitled to a due process hearing on the issue of dangerousness. 

Tran v. Bancroft 648 So.2d 314 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.,1995)

In this Florida case, a tenant's next-door neighbor, who was bitten by tenant's dog when it leaped over fence and then attacked the neighbor on property not owned by landlord, brought a personal injury suit against the landlord.  The appellate court upheld a motion of summary judgment in favor of the defendant non-owner.   The court found that t he existence of a duty in a negligence action is a question to be decided as a matter of law.  Although the so-called "dog bite" statute, section 767.04, Florida Statutes (1993) controls actions against a dog's owner, actions against a non-owner must be brought upon a theory of common law liability.  Essentially, a landlord has no duty to prevent injuries to third parties caused by a tenant's dog away from leased premises.

People v. Jornov 65 A.D.3d 363, 881 N.Y.S.2d 776 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2009)

This New York case stems from an attack on Philip Mueller and his dog by Defendant-Appellant Jornov's "two pit bull-terrier mixed breed dogs.” During proceedings in City Court, the court determined that defendant's dogs were dangerous dogs and directed that they be euthanized. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the finding that the dogs were dangerous under Agriculture and Markets Law § 121 and Agriculture and Markets Law § 350[5] because there was clear and convincing evidence that the dogs attacked a companion animal and behaved in a manner that a reasonable person would believe posed a serious and imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. However, under the amended version of the statute, a judge or justice may not automatically direct humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of a dangerous dog where none of the aggravating circumstances are present.

Williams v. Hill 658 So.2d 381 (Ala.,1995)

In this Alabama case, a motorcyclist and passenger were injured when they collided with defendant's dog while traveling on public roadway and brought an action for damages. The Circuit Court, Elmore County granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and the motorcyclist and passenger appealed. The Court held that there is no recover at common law, as no negligence was shown. The Court would not accept the proposal that all owners should be charged with the knowledge that dogs will chase cars.   “We hold that the owner of a dog may not be charged with the general knowledge that all dogs chase motor vehicles, and therefore that the law will not impute such general knowledge to dog owners in actions for injuries incurred. We, therefore, affirm the defendant's summary judgment.”

Hardsaw v. Courtney 665 N.E.2d 603 (Ind.App.,1996)

In this Indiana case, the Hardsaws appeal a jury verdict in favor of the Courtneys stemming from their complaint for damages against the Hardsaws after their daughter Kimberly was attacked and bitten by the Hardsaws' dog who was under the supervision of the Hardsaw's 12-year-old daughter at the time of the attack. The Courtneys alleged negligent entrustment. On appeal, the Hardaws argue that, as a matter of law, absent evidence of prior viciousness, they could not have been negligent in entrusting Buster to their daughter and, thus, that this case should not have been submitted to the jury. The court found that the question of whether owner's entrustment of the control and restraint of a dog to a child was reasonable under the circumstances is a question for the jury. Here, the dog was restrained in the yard by a chain, but he was left under the care and supervision of a twelve-year-old child who had no previous experience supervising him. The judgment was affirmed.

Edwards v. Shanley 666 F.3d 1289 (C.A.11 (Fla.))

Automobile driver fled scene of a traffic stop and sustained serious injuries when he was attacked by a police dog, which was allowed to continue for 5 - 7 minutes. Plaintiff brought § 1983 action, alleging that the use of the police dog constituted excessive force, and that the other officer failed to intervene and stop the attack, both of which violated plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals held that the use of the police dog to help track and initially subdue the driver was constitutional, but permitting the dog to continue to attack the driver constituted excessive force.

Custer v. Coward 667 S.E.2d 135 (Ga.App.,2008)

Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The plaintiffs' 5-year-old child was bitten by the defendants' dog while the plaintiffs were visiting the defendants, who were also their neighbors. While jumping on the defendants' trampoline, the plaintiffs' child fell onto the defendants' dog who bit the child on the leg and would not let go for a few minutes.  The plaintiffs contended at trial that the defendants' knowledge that the dog had "Wobbler's Syndrome," a cranial neck instability that causes leg problems, somehow put the defendants on notice of the dog's vicious propensity. However, the court discarded plaintiffs' argument, finding that is no evidence that Butkus had bitten or attempted to bite anyone before the incident. Further, there was no reason for the defendants to believe that the dog's leg condition would make it more apt to attack humans.

Scott v. Donkel 671 So.2d 741 (Ala.Civ.App.,1995)

In this Alabama case, there was an injury to a non-tenant child by a dog bite, and the defendant was a landlord.  The attack occurred off the rented premises in the public street.    The action was based upon negligence, that is, a failure to protect against a dangerous condition.   The key to such a claim is the knowledge of the landlord. Plaintiff presented no evidence of the landlord being aware of the dog let alone that he knew of its vicious propensity.   The court did not find a duty to inspect the premises and discover this information.  The court did not reach the point that the attack occurred off the premises.  The granting of the motion for summary judgment for the landlord was upheld.

Harris v. Anderson County Sheriff's Office 673 S.E.2d 423 (S.C.,2009)

In this South Carolina case, the court considered the meaning of the term "or" in the state's dog bite statute, SC ST 47-3-110, and whether that word allows a plaintiff to pursue a statutory claim against the owner of the dog while that dog is in the care of another. The facts concerned a veterinary assistant who sued a county sheriff's officer after she was bitten by a police dog while the dog was kenneled at the veterinary clinic where she worked. The lower court granted summary judgment for the sheriff's office. The Supreme Court disagreed with this interpretation. Based on a plain language reading of the statute, the Court concluded that the Legislature intended to allow a claim against the owner of the dog when another person has the dog in his care or keeping.

Pages