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Should some dogs be called dangerous before they attack?

Under California state law, the law does not define a dog as “potentially dangerous” or “vicious” until it attacks a human at least once and causes severe injury, or has two lesser attacks within 36 months. Even breeds notorious for being potentially deadly are considered innocent until proven dangerous.

In an effort to prevent dog bite attacks, an Ohio community’s city council has enacted a more proactive approach: letting the police designate individual dogs as dangerous, even if they have never attacked any person or animal.

The Avon Lake City Council’s decision came in the wake of an incident where two dog attacks killed a pair of smaller dogs and injured an 81-year-old person. One of two new ordinances will allow residents to call police if they notice a dog they believe is a potential threat. The complainant will be required to fill out a complaint and sign it, and appear at a hearing, if necessary.

From there, animal control officers will investigate to determine whether the accused dog really is a potential nuisance. That is where the second new ordinance comes in. Now, owners of dogs labeled threatening must use a non-retractable leash, and put a yellow neon vest and collar on the dog whenever it leaves its owner’s property. Finally, the ordinance requires that the dog be kept in a secured, self-latching fence that is at least 6 feet tall, or in a locked pen.

Though the dog is the one that actually attacks, its owner is the one that must pay for the victim’s damages. Someone dealing with serious injuries after a dog attack should consider meeting with a personal injury attorney to learn about their options.

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