When living in Arkansas, you will see a wide range of pedestrians out and about heading off to school, work or recreational activities. In addition to people enjoying biking along city streets or talking long strolls in the park, you may also see the occasional dog walking beside their owner. Dogs come in a range of breeds, sizes and personalities. Some pets can be large and lovable, or small and excitable.
However, if the dog isn’t properly restrained or if it has an aggressive behavior, it may lash out at people or pets. Dog bites can be scary for both adults and children, creating serious injuries and even death. Understanding dog leash and bite laws can help people keep their dogs in control as well as help people who have been bitten to seek the right compensation for their injuries.
Arkansas Dog Leash Laws
There are no statewide dog leash laws in Arkansas. In Arkansas, municipalities are provided the power to decide on specific dog rules and regulations under statute A.C.A. § 14-54-1102. In this statute, municipal corporations are allowed to decide on what to do with dogs that are threatening the well-being of the public, such as dogs that are astray (called running “at-large”), dogs that are annoyances, and dogs that have caused injuries to people or other domesticated animals.
If any dog is found in violation of this statute, the municipality has the right to impound or destroy the dog. If the municipality knows the address of the dog owner, such as the loose dog possessing a tag with the owner’s information, the municipality must send a notice of intent to the owner regarding the proposed destruction of the dog. The notice will be sent 5 days prior to the date on when the dog will be destroyed.
Many cities in Arkansas, such as Cabot, have adopted basic dog leash laws. The law requires that dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and remain in control of the pet owner when outside the home. The pet owner can also use some type of physical barrier to control their dog.
Arkansas Dog Bite Laws
Similar to dog leash laws, Arkansas has no statewide dog bite regulations. In Arkansas, there are cruelty laws on the books in regards to vicious dog attacks where a person knowingly or negligently allows a dog to attack another person that results in serious injury or death. Under code § 5-62-125: Unlawful Dog Attack regulation, an unlawful dog attack can be considered a Class A misdemeanor if:
- a person knows, or has a reason to know, that the dog is a danger to other people and has a natural tendency or inclination to attack or cause injuries
- if the person is negligent and allows this dog to attack someone else
- the unlawful dog attack causes a serious physical injury or serious death to the other person
In addition to the penalty of a Class A misdemeanor, the dog owner may also be required by a court of law to pay compensation or restitution to the attacked person to help pay for any medical bills.
For unintentional dog bites where the owner had no reason to belief that their dog was a danger or would attack someone, dog bite laws focus on confinement of the animal by health authorities to observe for rabies. Local public officials will have a facility set up where the dog will be confined for observation for up to 10 days. If no facility is available, the pet owner will need to make arrangements to confine the pet. If the dog is a stray, the person bitten by the dog will have to make confinement arrangements for the animal.
It is considered an unlawful act to not inform the health authorities of dog bite incidents. It is also an unlawful activity for the owner to sell or transfer ownership of the dog after it has bitten a person and the health authorities has not been notified or given their release of the animal. You also cannot move the dog to another location or dispose of it before notifying health authorities.
Seeking Compensation for Dog Bites in Arkansas
If you are bitten by a dog in Arkansas, you may receive compensation by filing a personal injury claim if it can be proven that the dog owner was negligent. You will need to show a court of law that the dog owner negligently failed their responsibility in handling or controlling their dog as this negligent behavior resulted in you becoming injured.
You may also be able to file a claim under the “one bite” rule that is based off of Arkansas’ Unlawful Dog Attack regulation. The one bite rule is where the dog owner knew, or had a reason to know, that the dog has dangerous tendencies to attack, or may have previously displayed aggression where the dog bit someone else.
In some instances, you may be able hold dog owners liable for dog bite injuries under strict liability rules. Strict liability rules are used when no finding of fault can be placed on the dog owner for their dog biting someone, yet the dog owner can still be held liable for the injuries that were caused. This is common when the dog breed is one that is considered dangerous, or having a propensity to violence, such as with a pit bull.
Contact the Law Offices of Alan Levar if you were recently bitten by a dog. We can help determine what dog leash and dog bite laws apply based on the Arkansas county where the incident took place, and help determine if you have a personal injury case.