Dangerous Dog Statutes and Ordinances in Texas Explained by Houston Lawyers
The Law that Applies if you have been bitten by a dog
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should know that the State of Texas and most counties and cities have statutes and ordinances that regulate dangerous dogs to protect people from dog bites. The effect of these laws is two-fold. First, enforcement of these regulations helps reduce the number of dog attacks. Second, when somebody has been attacked and bitten by a dangerous dog, if a violation of the law was a contributing factor, this can be used by a dog bite lawyer to prove liability against the dog owner.
Texas Statutes on Dangerous Dogs
What is a Dangerous Dog Under Texas Law?
A “Dangerous Dog” is one that makes an unprovoked attack on a person outside of its enclosure that causes bodily injury or is aggressive to such an extent that its actions cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury. If you were bitten by a dog out in public in an unprovoked attack, that dog is likely considered dangerous.
Seizure of a Dangerous Dog to Prevent Further Attacks
State of Texas laws regarding the regulation of dangerous dogs to prevent dog bites are found in Title 10 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. This law allows for the seizure of a dangerous dog that causes death or serious bodily injury. When this happens, it can only be returned after a hearing before a judge to determine if the dog did in fact inflict such injuries. Unfortunately, at this stage it is usually too late as the dog attack has already occurred. We have handled many dog bite cases in the past where the dog is taken into custody and ordered destroyed. However, as mentioned, by this time the death or injury has already occurred. The hearing and destruction of the dog at that point is meant to prevent future attacks.
Felony for Failing to Secure a Dog that Attacks
If a dog owner knows that it is a dangerous animal and it makes an unprovoked attack outside of its secure area, that person can be charged and convicted of a crime if the dog causes serious bodily injury or death. It is a felony of the third degree if there is serious bodily injury from the dog attack and it is a felony of the second degree if the dog attack results in the death of the victim.
Insurance Requirements for Dangerous Dogs
When an individual knows that they have a dangerous dog, they are required to:
- Register the dog with the local animal control office;
- Properly restrain or enclose the dog;
- Obtain liability insurance or show financial responsibility of at least $100,000 to cover any personal injury damages caused by a dog attack; and
- Comply with all county or city regulations regarding dogs.
City of Houston Regulations to Prevent Dog Attacks
The City of Houston has very detailed ordinances regulating not only dangerous dogs but also those considered aggressive and dogs considered a public nuisance.
An aggressive dog is one which attacks another person on the property of the dog’s owner, has displayed aggressive
tendencies putting people in fear that it will escape or has interfered with people walking in a public area.
Public Nuisance Dogs
In accordance with state law, the City of Houston dangerous dog ordinances allow for a dangerous or aggressive dog to be declared a public nuisance. Following a hearing, if there is a determination that the dog is a public nuisance, it can be euthanized.
Dangerous Dogs Owned by Minors
If a minor child owns a dangerous dog, the parents of the minor are responsible and liable for all injuries caused by the animal.
Harris County Dangerous Dog Regulations
Harris County Regulations require that all dogs be kept restrained and the custodian of every dog or cat is responsible for its behavior. Moreover, Harris County considers every animal not under restraint to be a stray. Stray dog or cat is considered to be a public nuisance and subject to being impounded.
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, contact Board Certified Injury Lawyer Michael P. Fleming for a free consultation.