Dangerous Dog: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
McAllister v. Wiegand 2009CarswellOnt189

The plaintiff, a 55-year old woman and recent acquaintance of the defendants, was bitten on the cheek by the defendant's bull mastiff dog, resulting in a spreading infection and loss of all her teeth. The plaintiff was an invited guest in the defendant's home where she had been on 3-4 prior occasions. There was a question over whether the incident arose when the plaintiff startled the dog from sleep by petting it while bending over it, or whether the dog had just awakened when it was petted and bit her. The court found that dog and plaintiff were familiar with each other and there was nothing provocative that should have caused the dog to retaliate. Thus according to Ontario's Dog Owner Liability Act, where owners are strictly or absolutely liable for their dogs' injuries to others, the defendants were strictly liable to the plaintiff for her injuries.

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.

McBride v. XYZ Ins. 935 So.2d 326 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2006)

In this Louisiana dog bite case, a guest individually and on behalf of child brought an action against the dog owner to recover for bites.  The child's bites occurred while the guest and her child were visiting defendant's home after the child had been petting and hugging the dog (a fairly large Chow).  The appellate court held that the adult guest's conduct of swatting the dog with a shoe after the dog had released the child's arm was not provocation and the defendant was strictly liable for the injuries.  While the district court reasoned that the guest failed to use reasonable caution in reading the warning signs and provoked the dog by striking him after he had already released the child, this court found that the guest and her children entered the yard through the house, and she did not notice the signs. Moreover, both witnesses testified that events unfolded very fast; the record persuaded the court that Ms. McBride's conduct in swatting Smokey with a shoe was not an intentional provocation but a natural and inevitable reaction to seeing her child's arm in the dog's jaws.  

McNeely v. U.S. 874 A.2d 371 (D.C. App. 2005) Defendant McNeely was convicted in a jury trial in the Superior Court of violating the Pit Bull and Rottweiler Dangerous Dog Designation Emergency Amendment Act.  On appeal, t he Court of Appeals, held that the Act did not deprive defendant of fair warning of the proscribed conduct, as the defendant here was required to know that he owned pit bulls in order to be convicted under the Act; and the prosecutor's improper comment was rendered harmless by the trial court's curative instructions.
Mercado v. Ovalle 973 N.Y.S.2d 171 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., 2013)

In this New York case, plaintiff appealed the lower court's order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment in a dog bite case. Defendants, a grocery store and its owner, asserted that they did not own the two pit bulls that attacked plaintiff. The only evidence plaintiff presented showing defendants' ownership and control over the dogs were hearsay statements from the mechanic who operated the lot that the dogs guarded. The court found this evidence that defendants occasionally walked and fed the dogs insufficient to show that they "harbored" the dogs. Affirmed.

Miles ex rel. Miles v. Rich 347 S.W.3d 477 (Mo.App. E.D., 2011)

In this Missouri case, the plaintiff filed an action against defendant dog owner for damages after defendant's dog bit the plaintiff's child. Defendant dog owner then filed a third-party petition against the Humane Society of Missouri from which defendant had adopted the dog, seeking contribution under a theory of common law negligence. Defendant appeals the lower court's dismissal, specifically contending that the Humane Society breached 1) its duty to prevent the adoption of the dog by doing tests it knew would have identified the dog's dangerous propensity to bite ; and 2) its duty to fully inform defendant of the risks of keeping a dog who has bitten in the past. The appellate court found that the Humane Society did not own, possess, harbor or control the dog when it bit Ms. Miles; thus, it had no duty under common law negligence principles to prevent the harm.

Miller v. Dep't of Agric. --- A.3d ----, 2016 WL 4654364 (Conn. App. 2016) The Plaintiff, Kim Miller, argued “a severe deprivation” of her rights when the Superior Court dismissed her appeal to prevent her dogs from being euthanized. Miller owned two Rottweiler dogs that attacked the victim Cynthia Reed, causing injuries to Reed's head, the back of her neck, and her back. An animal control officer issued two disposal orders to euthanize Miller’s dogs. The Defendant, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, then affirmed the orders and Miller appealed. The Superior Court also dismissed the appeal, and Miller appealed further to the Appellate Court of Connecticut. Here, Miller argues, among other things, that her Sixth Amendment rights to confront witnesses were violated when witnesses were not available for cross-examination. Plaintiff Miller also claims that there were procedural violations in the initial hearing because of lack of written rules that applied to dog disposal orders and claimed error when the hearing officer acted acted arbitrarily and capriciously by “interject[ing] his opinion” while questioning a witness. The Appellate Court held that: (1) the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) did not preclude the admission of statements from the victim and an eyewitness, even though the victim and witness did not testify at the hearing. The court reasoned that in administrative proceedings under the UAPA, evidence is not inadmissible solely because it constitutes hearsay, as long as the evidence is reliable and probative. Additionally, a party to an administrative proceeding under the UAPA is not required to call any particular witness. (2) A dog owner's appeal of disposal orders for a biting animal is not a criminal prosecution that invokes Sixth Amendment protections. The court reasoned that the issuance of a disposal order does not, by itself, trigger the imposition of a fine or prison term on the owner. Rather, by obviating the threat that dangerous animals pose to the public, the provision is remedial and civil in nature. The judgment of the trial court dismissing the plaintiff's appeal was affirmed.
Moore v. Myers 868 A.2d 954 (Md. 2005)

A twelve-year-old girl was running away from her neighbor's pit bull when she was struck by a car.  The girl's mother brought claims on behalf of her daughter and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the neighbors on all counts and submitted the question of the driver's negligence to the jury.  The Court of Appeals reversed in part holding questions of the dog owner's violation of county law, whether the fifteen year old son owed a duty to protect the girl from the dog, and whether actions by the son breached his duty to protect were all questions for the jury. 

Morawek v. City of Bonney Lake 184 Wash. App. 487, 337 P.3d 1097 (2014) A woman filed a complaint with the Bonney Lake animal control authority after her neighbor’s dog killed her cat. The animal control officer served plaintiff with paperwork stating that his dog satisfied the definition of a dangerous dog under the Bonney Lake Municipal Code because the dog had killed a domestic animal without provocation while off his owner's property. Plaintiff appealed the designation to the police chief, the city hearing examiner, and the superior court; all of which affirmed the designation. The Washington Court of Appeals, however, held that the hearing examiner's finding that the owner's dog killed the neighbor's cat without provocation was not supported by substantial evidence, as required to uphold a dangerous dog designation, even though the “location” element of the dangerous dog designation was satisfied. The dangerous dog designation was therefore reversed.
Morehead v. Deitrich 932 N.E.2d 1272 (Ind.App.,2010)

Postal carrier sued landlord for negligence after tenant's dog bit her.  The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that landlord did not have a duty to keep dog from biting postal carrier absent control over the property.

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.

Morsillo v. Migliano 1985 CarswellOnt 786

The child plaintiff Morsillo was attacked and bitten by a neighbour's pet German Shepherd, which tended to 'bark savagely' at local children, had bitten once before, and was kept in a secure fenced yard and only taken out on a leash and choke-chain. The boy was playing cops and robbers with the owner's son on the owner's front lawn, while the owner's teenaged daughter was taking the leashed dog to the garage, when it escaped and attacked. No provocation of the dog was proven so the owners were found strictly liable under the Dog Owner's Liability Act (which abrogates scienter in that province) and also liable in negligence, with no contributory negligence by the plaintiff; the provincial Ontario Health Insurance Plan was entitled to recover the costs of the plaintiff's care from the defendants.

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).

Muela v. Gomez 343 S.W.3d 491 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 2011)

Defendant Samuel Muela appeals a judgment for damages in the amount of $30,279.45 after plaintiff was attacked by a pit bull. Samuel contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that he owned or possessed the pit bull and thus had no knowledge of its vicious propensities. The court concluded that there is no evidence that Samuel lived at his parents' trailer or owned the pit bull. Additionally, while Samuel did visit his parents' house to feed their pet dog, there was no direct evidence that he had ever seen the pit bull or knew of it. The court reversed and rendered judgment that Gomez take nothing against Samuel.

Nava v. McMillan 176 Cal.Rptr. 473 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)

In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Nelson v. Lewis 344 N.E.2d 268 (Ill.App. 1976)

Toddler accidentally stepped on the tail of the owner's dog, and the dog responded by scratching her eye, causing permanent damage to the tear duct.  The toddler sought damages under Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 8, para. 366 (1973), arguing that her unintentional act did not constitute provocation.  The court held that provocation under the statute referred to both intentional or unintentional acts.  Because the dog was provoked by the unintentional act, he did not react viciously.

Newport v. Moran 721 P.2d 465 (Or.App.,1986)

In this Oregon case, an action was brought to recover damages for injuries after defendant's dog ran into plaintiff and knocked her down. The lower court entered a verdict against the defendant and she appealed. The Court of Appeals held that, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, there was find no evidence that would put defendant on notice that the dog had a potentially dangerous propensity to run into people. Further, without some reason to foresee that the dog was likely to run into people, there was no common-law duty to confine the dog. The evidence also did not warrant submission of the case to the jury on the theory of negligence per se for violation of the dog control ordinance because this risk was not one anticipated by the ordinance. Reversed.

Nutt v. Florio 914 N.E.2d 963 (Mass. Ct. App., 2009)

This Massachusetts case involves an appeal of a summary judgment in favor of the landlord-defendant concerning an unprovoked dog attack. The dog, described as a pit bull terrier, was kept by a tenant of Florio's. The court found that, while the defendants cannot be held strictly liable by virtue the dog's breed, "knowledge of that breed and its propensities may properly be a factor to be considered in determining whether the defendants were negligent under common-law principles." Reviewing the record de novo, the court held that this question and the defendant's knowledge of the dog's propensities, created a genuine issue of material fact. The order of summary judgment for defendant was reversed and the case was remanded.

O'MALLEY, v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia 785 S.E.2d 221 (Va.,2016) The appellant, John Dixon O'Malley was not charged with or convicted of any crime. However, he was issued a summons to determine whether his dog was dangerous pursuant to Virginia Code § 3.2–6540(A) and (B). The jury found O’Malley's dog to be dangerous under the Virginia Code due to attacking and injuring the dog of Randall Powell. O’Malley appealed the trial court decision to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. The Court of Appeals concluded that they did not have jurisdiction over the appeal due to being a court of limited jurisdiction. The Court relied on Virginia Code § 17.1–406(A) which provides that the Court of Appeals' appellate jurisdiction was limited to appeals from final criminal convictions. The Court of Appeals reasoned that no language in Code § 3.2–6540 characterized as criminal the proceeding to identify a canine as a dangerous dog. Therefore, the finding at the trial level that O’Malley's dog was dangerous was civil in nature. Because the finding was civil in nature, the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction over O’Malley’s appeal and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch, L.L.C. v. Lange 326 S.W.3d 549 (Mo.App. E.D., 2010)

A Missouri statute places liability on a dog owner where such dog kills or maims a sheep or "other domestic animal" of another. On December 10, 2006, three dogs of Defendant Glendon Lange entered Oak Creek’s deer breeding farm and killed 21 of Oak Creek's "breeder deer." The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, disagreed with the trial court, finding that "domestic" should have been interpreted by the "plain meaning" of the word, which therefore includes Oak Creek’s breeder deer.

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.

Panattieri v. City of New York 37 N.Y.S.3d 431 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016) --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2016 WL 4691555, 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 26283

Ceasar, a mixed breed dog, was seized by police after he killed another dog and injured the other dogs’ owner. Petitioners, Kristina & Douglas Panattieri, owned Ceasar and demanded his return to their custody. They also challenged the determination by Respondent, Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), to execute Ceasar pursuant to the New York City Health Code (24 RCNY) § 161.07. The Petitioners argued that Ceasar’s execution would be unconstitutional under the City Code because it was preempted by the state statute, Agriculture & Markets Law § 123.The Supreme Court, New York County, denied their petition and held that the New York City Health Code was not preempted by the state statute. The Court reasoned that the Agriculture and Markets Law § 107(5), which governed licensing, identification, and control of dogs, expressly allowed municipalities to enact their own Codes governing dangerous dogs. However the City Codes were to incorporate standards that were as or more protective of public health and safety than those set forth in the state statute. The New York City Code met the requirement and was therefore not preempted by state law.

Parker v. Parker 195 P.3d 428 (Or.App.,2008)

Plaintiff and his 12 year-old quarter horse were visiting defendant at defendant's property when defendant's dog rushed at the horse causing it to run into a steel fence. The horse suffered severe head trauma, which necessitated its later euthanization. Plaintiff filed suit for damages asserting liability under common law negligence and O.R.S. 609.140(1) - the statute that allows an owner to recover double damages where livestock is injured due to being injured, chased, or killed by another person's dog. The appellate court agreed with plaintiff that O.R.S. 609.140(1) creates an statutory cause of action independent from negligence. Further, the court found that plaintiff fell within the class of persons the statute aims to protect because the legislature did not intend to limit the statute's application to property owned by the livestock's owner.

People v. Beam 244 Mich.App. 103 (2000)

Defendant was charged with owning a dog, trained or used for fighting, that caused the death of a person and  filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that M.C.L. § 750.49(10); MSA 28.244(10) was unconstitutionally vague.  The court granted defendant's motion, finding the terms "without provocation" and "owner" to be vague, and dismissed the case. The prosecutor appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that statute was not unconstitutionally vague. Reversed.

People v. Beauvil 2008 WL 2685893; 872 N.Y.S.2d 692 (Table), (N.Y.Just.Ct.,2008)

This New York case came before this Court after the District Attorney refused to prosecute the case. The complaintant alleged that on April 16, 2008, he was walking down a public sidewalk when a loose dog, later identified as belonging to the defendants, ran up to and bit the complainant on the hand. Police were contacted and a complaint was made to the Village of Westbury Attorney who then advised the complainant to file a formal complaint with the Nassau County District Attorney's office. The District Attorney's office declined to prosecute and instead suggested that the Village handle the matter. This Court held that it has no jurisdiction to hear the misdemeanor charge stemming from the violation of Agriculture & Markets Law § 121 (but then did list the other avenues available for the complaintant). This Court, sua sponte, also held that the Agriculture & Markets Law § 121, as applied to Nassau County Village Justice Courts, is unconstitutional. This was due to the fact that Village Courts have no jurisdiction (or ability, as pointed out by the court) to hear misdemeanors.

People v. Berry 1 Cal. App. 4th 778 (1991)

In a prosecution arising out of the killing of a two-year-old child by a pit bulldog owned by a neighbor of the victim, the owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §   192, subd. (b)), keeping a mischievous animal (Pen. Code, §   399), and keeping a fighting dog (Pen. Code, §   597.5, subd. (a)(1)). The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that an instruction that a minor under the age of five years is not required to take precautions, was proper. The court further held that the trial court erred in defining "mischievous" in the jury instruction, however, the erroneous definition was not prejudicial error under any standard of review. The court also held that the scope of defendant's duty owed toward the victim was not defined by Civ. Code, §   3342, the dog-bite statute; nothing in the statute suggests it creates a defense in a criminal action based on the victim's status as a trespasser and on the defendant's negligence.

People v. Flores 216 Cal. App. 4th 251, 156 Cal. Rptr. 3d 648 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.), review denied (Aug. 21, 2013)

Defendant Flores appeals his conviction under Penal Code section 399 for allowing a " mischievous animal" owned by him to cause serious injury to another person. In this case, defendant's pit bull dog, "Blue,"attacked defendant's almost 90-year old neighbor on his own property causing deep injuries to his leg. Blue had been previously involved in three other incidents where he either tried to attack other dogs or acted aggressively toward other humans. As a result of these incidents, Sonoma County officials issued defendant a issued a potentially dangerous animal warning. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he acted without ordinary care in keeping his dog and that the victim-neighbor did not suffer a serious injury as defined by statute. The court found both of these arguments without merit. While defendant suggested that he acted with "ordinary care" by keeping the dog tethered and chained outside on the day of the incident, the court found the evidence showed Blue had broken free in the past and had "massive strength." Further, even though the potentially dangerous dog designation by the county did not mandate that Blue be kept inside or in a secure enclosure, the ordinance language provides this requirement. Leaving a dog with a history of unprovoked attacks chained next to a public sidewalk in a residential neighborhood supported the jury's conclusion that defendant did not act as reasonably careful person would in the same situation. As to the serious bodily injury claim, the court noted that although the law does not define the term, there was substantial medical evidence to support the jury's determination. Affirmed.

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.

People v. Schneider 2004 WL 2191322 (Ca. App. 3 Dist.)

Defendant's dogs escaped from Defendant's yard and attacked and killed a six-year-old boy.  The trial court convicted Defendant of owning a mischievous animal that causes death and involuntary manslaughter.  The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the trial court's conviction for owning a mischievous animal that causes death due to erroneous jury instructions. 

Pepper v. Triplet 864 So.2d 181 (La. 2004)

Neighbor sued dog owner for injuries resulting from dog bite.  Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must show that, first, that the injuries could have been prevented by the dog owner and that the plaintiff did not provoke the dog to attack, second, that the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm, and third, that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care.  Plaintiff did not accomplish this.  Reversed. (Extensive history of state dog bit law.)

Perkins v. Hattery 155 N.E.2d 73 (Ohio App. 1958)

This Ohio case examined the propriety of a county dog warden killing a dog that had killed a sheep nine hours before such seizure.  The Court of Appeals held that dog warden was not authorized to destroy or otherwise dispose of a duly licensed dog found and seized by such warden upon the premises of its owner following a complaint made to the warden by the owner of sheep that the dog had killed certain of his sheep approximately nine hours before such seizure.

Pflaum v. Summit Cty. Animal Control --- N.E.3d ---- 2017 WL 2467132 (OhioApp.2017) Defendant appealed a trial court determination that his dog was dangerous under Ohio law. The designation stemmed from an incident in 2015, where defendant's dog and another dog began to fight. A neighbor attempted to break up the fight and was subsequently bitten on the hand. A week after that incident, the local deputy dog warden gave the defendant notice that there was cause to believe his dog was dangerous due to the bite on the hand. The magistrate found the dog did not meet the statutory definition of a dangerous dog. Animal control then appealed the magistrate's decision and the trial court agreed, finding that animal control demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the dog was dangerous. At the Court of Appeals, Pflaum argued that the trial court abused its discretion in overturning the magistrate's decision. The court observed that the neighbor's striking of the Pflaum's dog during the fight fell within the concept of "torment" for purposes of determining provocation. While the neighbor's action were "well-intentioned," the issue of whether a person "tormented" a dog does not depend on whether there was a malicious intent. Thus, there was not clear and convincing evidence that the dog acted without provocation when it caused injury to a person. The trial court was reversed and the cause remanded.
Phillips v. San Luis Obispo County Dept. 228 Cal.Rptr. 101 Cal.App. (2 Dist.,1986)

In this case, the owners of dog petitioned for writ of mandamus requesting vacation of destruction order and declaration that ordinances under which the dog was seized were unconstitutional.  The Court of Appeal held that due process required that owners have hearing prior to seizure of or destruction of dog (a property interest) and that a "courtesy hearing" did not satisfy due process requirements.  Further, the court concluded that the ordinances here were unconstitutional for failing to provide for notice and a hearing either before or after the seizure of an uncontrollable biting or vicious dog. 

Pickford v. Masion 98 P.3d 1232 (Wa. 2004)

Plaintiffs' dog was mauled by Defendants' dogs and sustained permanent injuries.  The trial court granted summary judgment against Plaintiffs' claims of negligent and malicious infliction of emotional distress.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of partial summary judgment and further held the destruction of the companionship relationship could not be extended to dogs.

Portillo v. Aiassa 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 755 (1994)

In this California case, the plaintiff delivered beer to Race Street Liquors.   As he was leaving the store, he was attacked by a German shepherd   owned by the tenant.   The jury found appellant-landlord did not have actual knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities prior to renewing the commercial lease.   However, the jury found that he would have learned of the dog's dangerous propensities if he had exercised reasonable care in the inspection of his property and that he was negligent in failing to eliminate this dangerous condition. 

Powell v. Adlerhorst Int'l, Inc. 2015 WL 6756126 (D. Or. Nov. 4, 2015) (unpublished) The plaintiff in this case brought suit after suffering a dog bite from a service dog that was purchased from defendant. The defendant was a corporation that purchased dogs from Europe and then sold them to police agencies to be used as service dogs. Plaintiff (a police officer with the Sherwood Police Department) filed suit asserting both a strict product liability and negligence claim for injuries sustained from dog bites. At issue here is whether the dog was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time the defendant sold it to the City of Sherwood. Defendant moved for summary judgment and the court denied the motion. The court ultimately held that a reasonable jury could find that defendant should have known about the dog’s aggressive behavior before selling it to plaintiff, thus making it liable for damages.
Prasad v. Wepruk 2004CarswellBC946

Plaintiff Prasad, an elderly newpaper-deliverer, was attacked in the street by defendant owner Wepruk's usually chained guard-dog, which escaped due to a rusted chain. The court found the defendant strictly liable under the doctrine of scienter's subjective test: he knew the dog was aggressive, but kept it anyway and it harmed Prasad. He was also liable under the objective test for negligence, for not taking reasonable precautions to ensure the dog's chain was in good repair, in order to prevent foreseeable harm to others.  damages of $35,000 were awarded for Prasad's injuries and lost future earnings.

Pray v. Whiteskunk 801 N.W.2d 451 (S.D., 2011)

In this South Dakota case, the plaintiff suffered a broken knee after Defendant's Rottweiler brook loose from its owner and ran toward the street, causing plaintiff to fall. Plaintiff brought an action for damages against both the dog owner and the city, specifically alleging the the city knew the dog was dangerous and failed to enforce its vicious animal ordinance. On appeal of the granting of summary judgment for the city, this court found that plaintiff failed to establish that the action taken by the city caused the harm to Pray or exposed her to greater risks, thereby leaving her in a worse position than she was in before the city took action. While this Court found that the city had actual knowledge of the dog's dangerousness, this alone is insufficient.

Prays v. Perryman 262 Cal.Rptr. 180 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)

In an action by a commercial pet groomer against a dog owner for injuries suffered by a dog bite, the trial court found as a matter of law that plaintiff had assumed the risk of a dog bite, and on that basis granted summary judgment in defendant's favor. At the time plaintiff was bitten, she had not yet begun to groom the dog and, in fact, had expressed to defendant her concern whether it was safe for her to do so since the dog was excited and growling. The Court of Appeal reversed. Assuming the veterinarian's rule extended to pet groomers, making the defense of assumption of risk available, it held that plaintiff had not as a matter of law assumed the risk of being bitten since, at the time of the bite, the dog was still under the exclusive control of defendant, who had uncaged it and was holding it on a leash.

Priebe v. Nelson 140 P.3d 848 (Cal. 2006)

A kennel worker who was bitten by a dog while the dog was in the care of the kennel sued the owner of the dog under a theory of strict liability under a statute and under the common law. The court found that the dog owner was not liable to the kennel worker because under the "veterinarian's rule," the kennel owner had assumed the risk of being bitten by the dog.

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.

R. v. Baird 1994 CarswellNWT 58

The defendant, George Baird, was charged on indictment that he caused bodily harm to Amelia Debogorski by criminal negligence stemming from his keeping of dangerous dogs. While the dogs self-evidently proved to be highly dangerous to the victim, there was little evidence of their prior dangerous intent simply because they ran at large. As a result, the court then found that there was reasonable doubt whether the danger was known and recognized by Mr. Baird prior to the attack. The court found that there insufficient proof to find that Baird acted with "wanton and reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.” The court also observed that while there may or may not have been civil negligence, this was not enough to sustain a conviction for criminal negligence.

Rabon v. City of Seattle 957 P.2d 621 (Wash. 1998)

Petitioner dog owner sought an injunction against a Seattle ordinance that allowed the city to destroy a vicious dog once the owner has been found guilty of owning a vicious dog (two lhasa apsos) .  The majority held that the state statute regulating dogs did not preempt field of regulating dangerous dogs and the city ordinance did not irreconcilably conflict with state statute.  Notably, Justice Sanders filed a strong dissent, pointing out that these dogs are the primary companions for the elderly petitioner.  While the state law regulating dangerous dogs allows cities to regulate "potentially dangerous dogs," the Seattle ordinance in question fails to make a distinction between the two types of dogs.  Justice Sanders wrote: "As Mr. Rabon notes, if the City were correct, dog owners and defense attorneys would find themselves arguing the bite was so vicious that the dog qualifies as "dangerous" in order to spare the dog's life."  Thus, the ordinance "eviscerates" the dual definition and violates the overriding state law on dangerous dogs.

Rabon v. City of Seattle (II) 34 P.3d 821 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2001)

This Washington case constitutes plaintiff's second appeal in extended litigation aimed at preventing the City of Seattle from destroying his dogs after a jury convicted him of the criminal charge of owning vicious dogs. The case began when Rabon filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against having his dogs destroyed.  This present appeal is from an order dismissing his constitutional claims against the City on summary judgment.  In affirming the order of summary judgment, this court held that a person's interest in keeping a vicious dog as a pet is not so great as to require a more careful procedure than is provided by Seattle's administrative and hearing process. The fact that plaintiff did not have a right to an immediate pre-deprivation hearing before the dogs were seized and impounded is justified by the strong public interest in prompt action to prevent more attacks. 

Ramapo v. Hi-Tor Animal Care Center, Inc. This court was asked to determine whether a dog shoul be declared dangerous pursuant to section 108 (24) (a) of the Agriculture and Markets Law. The case is unusual in one aspect as the respondent is an animal shelter and the alleged victim is an animal control officer from another township. The Justice Court found the shelter dog was not'Dangerous' pursuant to Agriculture and Markets Law. Interestingly, the court found the reasonable person standard in the statute to be problematic and in need of legislative amendment restoring in appropriate language the consideration of evidence of vicious propensity.
Ramirez v. M.L. Management Co., Inc. 920 So.2d 36 (D. Fla. 2004)

In this Florida dog bite case, the appellant asked the court to limit the application of a case that held that a landlord has no duty to third parties for injuries caused by a tenant's dog where those injuries occur off the leased premises. The child-tenant injured in this case was bitten by the dog of another tenant in a park adjacent to the apartment complex where she lived. The appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment for the landlord because the boundary of the premises is not dispositive of the landlord's liability.

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.

Richard v. Hoban 1970CarswellNB126

The child plaintiff was attacked and bitten by a chained German Shepherd after she put her arm around the dog's neck to hug or play with it; she sustained scarring lacerations of her head, cheek and eyelid that required 5 days' hospitalization after plastic surgery. The trial judge earlier held that because the dog, had two months previously, bitten a young boy on the face and ear in an unprovoked attack, the owner had prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to bite children, yet he kept the dog regardless. The owner was thus strictly liable under the doctrine of scienter. The Court of Appeal reversed this holding, with two judges finding that the boy in the earlier attack had been injured accidentally by the dog's dew-claw, rather than being bitten, so that there was insufficient notice to the dog's owner of any vicious propensity; thus he was not strictly liable in scienter.

Roach v. Jackson County 949 P.2d 1227 (Or. 1997)

This is an appeal of a county board and circuit court decision ordering destruction of a dog for chasing livestock.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision and held that the dog must be killed in a humane manner.

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