Vicious Dog Law
dog training
 

Vicious Dog Law


Discussions regarding vicious dog law will often lead to misunderstandings, since the term ”vicious dog” means different things to different people. Some people use the terms vicious dog, cruel dog and dangerous dog synonymous, while others make clear distinctions between the various terms. Law makers often distinguish between dangerous dogs and cruel/vicious dogs. To correctly interpret a vicious dog law, you must therefore first find out which definitions that should be used. 

In many dog laws, the term dangerous dog refers to the risk of injury or harm by any action of the dog. This means that a dog can fall under the dangerous dog law without falling under the vicious dog law. A large dog can for instance be dangerous if it knocks someone over when it tries to play or say hello, but is will not fall under the vicious dog law since it had no intent of actually harming anyone. A dog that tries to bite someone, or pushes a person with the intent of causing harm, is the type of dog that typically falls within the scope of vicious dog law. This means that if your large German shepherd is not fully trained, and therefore jumps an elderly person when trying to say hello, your German shepherd will be considered a dangerous dog, but not a vicious dog, in many jurisdictions. If your German shepherd instead tries to bite someone, it will most likely fall under the vicious dog law , since dogs bite humans and animals with the intent of causing injury.

A dog doesn’t necessarily have to cause actual harm to be considered a vicious dog. In many jurisdictions, a dog that has showed signs of serious aggressiveness or unsuccessfully tried to attack someone may be considered a vicious dog.

A dog can fall under the vicious dog law even if it had a “good reason” to attack someone. A dog can for instance misinterpret friendly wrestling between an adult and a child as an attack on the child, and bite the adult in order to save the child. This type of behaviour is especially common in dogs with a strong guarding instinct.

In some parts of the world, dogs will only be considered dangerous or vicious if they attack people. In other parts of the world, dogs can be considered dangerous even if they only attack pets or livestock. Many law makers take into consideration that if a dog has a habit of attacking pets or livestock, it will most likely injury a human sooner or later since owners of pets or livestock will try to protect their animals and sustain injuries in the process.

A certain parts of the world, dangerous dog law or vicious dog law apply to all dogs of a specific breed. This means that if you own a dog from that certain breed, it will always be considered a dangerous or vicious dog, even if your particular dog is very well trained and never show any signs of aggressiveness. Examples of breeds that frequently fall within the scope of dangerous or vicious dog law are Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Fila Braziliero and Pit bull terrier.

In several jurisdictions, a dog can be automatically classified as a dangerous or vicious dog if the owner does not adhere to animal control regulations, e.g. if the owner do not use a leash in areas where leashes are mandatory, or if the owner allows the dog to roam free on the streets completely unsupervised. A dog categorized as a dangerous or vicious dog can therefore cease to fall under dangerous or vicious dog law in the hands of a new and more law abiding owner.

Disclaimer: This text is meant as an introduction only and might contain errors. Always refer to a lawyer in your area to get the facts in your particular case.

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