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Dangerous Dogs Can Chew Up a Clean Criminal Record

Recently in Carrollton, Ohio, three dogs — a pit bull, a St. Bernard and a mixed breed — attacked a herd of goats, killing three goats and severely injuring five others. Before they were captured, the dogs also attacked a worker in the area. This was the third time the dogs’ owner had been cited for letting them run free.

Penalties for dangerous dogs depend on your dog’s history

At this point it is still uncertain what, if any, criminal charges the dogs’ owner faces. Under Ohio law, dog owners are required to keep their dogs either physically restrained on their premises or under reasonable control. If the owners are found to have violated that law, the penalties imposed depend on whether the dog was a:

  • Nuisance dog A nuisance dog is one that has chased or approached a person in a menacing fashion or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person. The failure to keep it properly confined or restrained is a misdemeanor.
  • Dangerous dog — A dangerous dog is one that has caused non-serious injury to a person or has killed another dog. Failure to keep it properly confined or restrained is a misdemeanor offense.
  • Vicious dog — A vicious dog is one that has killed or caused serious injury to any person. Failure to keep it properly confined or restrained is a first-degree misdemeanor in cases of serious injury and a fourth-degree felony if the dog killed someone.

Exceptions that may protect you and your dog

These designations do not apply under the following circumstances:

  • The dog was provoked; that is, the dog was teased or otherwise abused.
  • The dog was coming to the aid of another person.
  • The dog was a police dog acting in that capacity.
  • In the case of a vicious dog only, the dog was attacking someone trespassing on its owner’s property or attempting some other criminal offense there.

Even though most of these offenses are misdemeanors rather than felonies, if your dog has attacked another person, you require skilled legal representation. If your dog was already considered dangerous or vicious, the court may order it destroyed. Furthermore, a conviction has consequences in any civil suit filed by the dog’s victims. The highly rated Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA can help you. We have years of experience defending misdemeanor cases related to dog law violations.

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