Animal Law

Eric Torberson interviews after defending 6 dogs lives that the state was trying to have killed.
Dangerous dog lawyer

Texas Dangerous Dog Attorney

2018 State Bar of Texas Animal Law Section Award presented to Eric Torberson

We represent dogs, in what is referred to as a dangerous dog hearing, accused of biting or attacking. Texas has a state statute Health and Safety Code 822. It is highly advisable not to try and defend your dog on your own.

Dangerous Dog Hearing

In Texas there is state animal laws as well as local ordinances. Chapter 822 of The Health and Safety Code governs animal law. Specifically the state statute deals with procedure for dogs that bite humans. It does not cover dogs that attack other animals.

The state differentiates between bites that cause bodily injury and bites that cause serious bodily injury (SBI). This is a tremendous distinction because a SBI determination allows a court to kill a dog.

Dogs routinely do not get fair representation in court. They have rights in court and are entitled to a fair hearing and in a lot of cases a jury trial. Many lawyers do not know how to properly handle these cases.

Dog Bite Law

Causing Bodily Injury

Chapter 822.041 states the following:

“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.

A dog that bites after provocation or within it’s enclosure is protected. Provocation can be anything that causes the dog to think it should defend itself. An enclosure is not really defined, but is mentioned as being a place reasonably certain to keep the dog from leaving. These are important protections for dog’s rights in court.

Part of the dog bite statute even allows a person to complain about “acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.” This is so subjective that it is almost impossible to define. A person can simply lie and get a dog in trouble without having been bitten. Without a video it can be difficult to defend the dog.

Serious Bodily Injury or Death

SBI is defined as:

“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.

If death of serious bodily injury is sworn to the animal control officer will seek a warrant for the dog through a municipal, JP or county court. The dog will be seized and taken to the shelter until a hearing is held within 10 days. The law is extremely unfair if the bite, attack or mauling caused a person’s death. The person could have been attempting to murder someone on the dogs property and the law requires the dog to be killed. This law is morbidly unfair.

This Austin alleged dog attack death case was heartbreaking to defend. The woman was trespassing on the dog’s property where one of the dogs had recently born puppies. She died and there was no proof that all the dogs caused her death.

Serious Bodily Injury

For a dog causing SBI with no defenses applying, such as being in its own enclosure, the judge may order euthanasia. This decision follows the evidence whether proven that the dog caused serious bodily injury by biting, attacking or mauling.

Dangerous Dog Designation

According to Sec. 822.042. REQUIREMENTS FOR OWNER OF DANGEROUS DOG, a dog declared dangerous must be kept in a secure enclosure, or walked only on a leash, and owner must obtain $100,000 insurance. Failure to comply will result in the dog being ordered killed by the court. For more specific instruction it is advisable to take a look at the statute.

City Animal Ordinances

Some cities have generated their own ordinances regarding animals. Some of them need to be subject to appellate review. Certain cities will kill a dog for just about anything. Or they order removal of the dog from the city limits forever. This can subject a dog to death if the owner cannot rehome the dog in another city.

Dangerous Dog Hearing Defense Attorney

Call me if you find your dog being accused of being a dangerous dog. Your dog’s life is on the line. Dogs act like dogs and protect themselves, their owners, their territory and their young. We owe them respect. Call or email me about representing your dog. https://www.erictorberson.com