My dog bit someone now what happens? Just because a dog bites someone does not automatically mean the dog is to blame. Dogs have a right to live in peace. Dogs have a right to protect themselves and their property.
If a Dog Bites Someone Will It Be Put Down?
In Texas the Health and Safety Code 822 covers Texas state wide law on dog bites. It is a confusing statute that probably could stand to be restructured. Chapter D of 822 speaks of a bodily injury dog bite. Chapter A covers Serious Bodily Injury (SBI) or Death to a person. An incident covered by Chapter D or A could result in the dog being euthanized.
Lets start with 822 Chapter D. It defines a dangerous dog as:
“Dangerous dog” means a dog that: (A) makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own; or (B) commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
Notice that this part of the 822 statute speaks of an attack. It does not necessarily mean just a bite. It could be a scratch. (Though my only scratches are from a dog being too friendly.)
One of the first issues that I look at is was the dog provoked? Provocation is a defense for a dog attack. It allows the dog a fair shot at a just outcome. If you think about it if provocation was not included in the law then anyone could abuse or torment a dog. The dog would never be able to defend itself regardless of the how unfair the situation was. Kids could throw rocks at dogs. People could kick or hit dogs with objects for amusement. Unfortunately there are ill willed people on the planet who find it ok to abuse animals.
If the dog is in its enclosure then it is allowed some respect and space under the statute. Dogs are territorial not unlike people. If a stranger were to walk through your living room or bed room it would be to say the least startling.
Part B of the definition of dangerous dog is a troubling part of the statute. If a dog is out of his or her enclosure it has lost that protection under the statute. But the real grey area is that a person’s subjective idea or assertion about a dog’s mere intention puts the dog at risk. A dog does not even have to bite or attack and technically can be deemed dangerous. A person just has to say they “reasonably believed the dog would attack and cause bodily injury.”
Fo an accusation under part B it would be especially important to seek legal counsel of a dangerous dog attorney. This is a ‘subjective’ accusation and in many cases it is an angry neighbor or someone who may simply fear dogs from a previous traumatic experience.
A dog’s enclosure is not defined other than it is a place that the dog was being kept and that place was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving on its own.
Texas Dangerous Dog Requirements
If a dog is declared dangerous from a bodily injury attack, the dog’s life is not out of danger. There are requirements that have to be met if the case is not appealed. If these requirements are not met then the state can legally seize and euthanize your dog. The Texas state requirements are as follows:
Sec. 822.042. REQUIREMENTS FOR OWNER OF DANGEROUS DOG. (a) Not later than the 30th day after a person learns that the person is the owner of a dangerous dog, the person shall:
(1) register the dangerous dog with the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept;
(2) restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash in the immediate control of a person or in a secure enclosure;
(3) obtain liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person and provide proof of the required liability insurance coverage or financial responsibility to the animal control authority for the area in which the dog is kept; and
(4) comply with an applicable municipal or county regulation, requirement, or restriction on dangerous dogs.
(b) The owner of a dangerous dog who does not comply with Subsection (a) shall deliver the dog to the animal control authority not later than the 30th day after the owner learns that the dog is a dangerous dog.
(c) If, on application of any person, a justice court, county court, or municipal court finds, after notice and hearing as provided by Section 822.0423, that the owner of a dangerous dog has failed to comply with Subsection (a) or (b), the court shall order the animal control authority to seize the dog and shall issue a warrant authorizing the seizure. The authority shall seize the dog or order its seizure and shall provide for the impoundment of the dog in secure and humane conditions.
(d) The owner shall pay any cost or fee assessed by the municipality or county related to the seizure, acceptance, impoundment, or destruction of the dog. The governing body of the municipality or county may prescribe the amount of the fees.
(e) The court shall order the animal control authority to humanely destroy the dog if the owner has not complied with Subsection (a) before the 11th day after the date on which the dog is seized or delivered to the authority, except that, notwithstanding any other law or local regulation, the court may not order the destruction of a dog during the pendency of an appeal under Section 822.0424. The court shall order the authority to return the dog to the owner if the owner complies with Subsection (a) before the 11th day after the date on which the dog is seized or delivered to the authority.(f) The court may order the humane destruction of a dog if the owner of the dog has not been located before the 15th day after the seizure and impoundment of the dog.
Notice in the paragraph above that-“The court shall order the animal control authority to humanely destroy the dog if the owner has not complied.” This is extremely critical to know about before agreeing to let a dog be deemed a dangerous dog on the Texas Health and Safety Code statute!!
Serious Bodily Injury
Now 822 Chapter A puts the dog in more immediate risk of the court ordering euthanasia. For an attack, biting or mauling serious bodily injury case the statute states as follows:
(e) The court may order the dog destroyed if the court finds that the dog caused serious bodily injury to a person by attacking, biting, or mauling the person. If that finding is not made, the court shall order the dog released to:(1) its owner; (2) the person from whom the dog was seized; or (3) any other person authorized to take possession of the dog.
Defenses for the dog accused of causing serious bodily injury:
(f) The court may not order the dog destroyed if the court finds that the dog caused the serious bodily injury to a person by attacking, biting, or mauling the person and:
(1) the dog was being used for the protection of a person or person’s property, the attack, bite, or mauling occurred in an enclosure in which the dog was being kept, and: (A) the enclosure was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and provided notice of the presence of a dog; and (B) the injured person was at least eight years of age, and was trespassing in the enclosure when the attack, bite, or mauling occurred;
(2) the dog was not being used for the protection of a person or person’s property, the attack, bite, or mauling occurred in an enclosure in which the dog was being kept, and the injured person was at least eight years of age and was trespassing in the enclosure when the attack, bite, or mauling occurred;
(3) the attack, bite, or mauling occurred during an arrest or other action of a peace officer while the peace officer was using the dog for law enforcement purposes;
(4) the dog was defending a person from an assault or person’s property from damage or theft by the injured person; or
(5) the injured person was younger than eight years of age, the attack, bite, or mauling occurred in an enclosure in which the dog was being kept, and the enclosure was reasonably certain to keep a person younger than eight years of age from entering.
Unfortunately the law is not clear about whether the dog who is out of his or her enclosure is protected from a provoked act by someone. The chapter D bodily injury portion of the statute requires the attack causing bodily injury to be unprovoked. Here it seems that if an attack caused SBI then in all fairness the court would also look at whether provocation was present.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious Bodily Injury is defined as follows in the Health and Safety Code”
(2) “Serious bodily injury” means an injury characterized by severe bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle that would cause a reasonably prudent person to seek treatment from a medical professional and would require hospitalization without regard to whether the person actually sought medical treatment.
Serious Bodily Injury accusations put a dog’s life at risk of the judge ordering euthanasia in Texas. It is highly important to determine whether the bite really is serious bodily injury.
For comparative information Serious Bodily Injury (SBI) defined in the penal code and used for statutes with humans aggressors is as follows:
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
What Happens If My Dog Kills Someone?
In Texas there is no protection for a dog who has killed someone. Your friendly dog could be saving you and your family from a raving mass murderer burning down your house. If your dog kills the psychopath, the Texas law requires your dog to euthanized. The Health and Safety Code is as follows:
(d) The court shall order the dog destroyed if the court finds that the dog caused the death of a person by attacking, biting, or mauling the person.
This unsympathetic law is surprising. Texas values private property rights. It seems that even a dog that kills a cattle rustler would be protected from state ordered euthanasia. It is not so though.
For more information contact dangerous dog lawyer Eric Torberson.