In a perfect world, dog owners maintain control over their pets and they are never allowed to roam. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there are dog owners who are negligent.
One minute you are walking your dog or even in your own yard with your dog, when you encounter another dog that attacks your pet. What do you do when a dog bites your dog? Who is liable? Are there laws that cover this type of incident?
The state of Arkansas does not have dog bite statutes that address dog attacks on other dogs. However, some Arkansas counties do have laws that cover dog ownership and dog bites. If you are involved in a scenario where a dog bites your dog, you need to know your rights and any legal recourse you may have. Your first step should be to research the laws in your county or talk to an attorney.
This information covers Arkansas as a state and does not take into account any specific county laws.
Pet owner responsibilities in Arkansas
Arkansas does not have any dog bite statutes which means it falls to common law liability. This means that although there is no legal statute, a person who does something that is known to be wrong (in this case failing to control their dog) can face legal consequences.
A dog owner has a responsibility to control their animal, which is usually via a leash or confined within a fence. Even though Arkansas does not have a statewide leash law, the owner is still responsible for controlling their dog. If the confinement method is substandard or cannot adequately contain the dog, the owner is still held liable.
The lack of a “dangerous dog” statute in Arkansas means that it is a “one bite state.” The health authorities must be notified immediately by the owner of the offending animal if the dog bites another dog or a human.
Your rights as a dog owner
If your dog has been injured, bitten, or killed by another dog, you do usually have some legal recourse. You have a right to expect that you and your dog are safe when you are in your own yard or even walking your dog.
If the dog has a history of being aggressive or violent, the owner has certain responsibilities above those of regular dog ownership. If they are found responsible for harboring an animal with a history of violent or aggressive behavior, they may be held liable and must pay for veterinary bills or other damages.
If the injuries to your dog are to the extent that it must be euthanized, you may be able to sue the owner for the amount you paid for it. Unfortunately, the law sees a dog as property and usually does not take into consideration any other factors beyond monetary value.
The “dangerous dog” and “one bite state”
Arkansas is a “one bite state.” This means that in some cases, a dog owner is shielded from liability if their dog bites another dog or even a person. On the other hand, it imposes liability on the dog owner in the case of other dog bites.
Basically, the law protects the dog owner, as well as anyone connected to the dog, from liability for the first bite or injury that the dog causes. In some cases, though, liability can be assigned based on other grounds.
On the other hand, if the dog is known to be dangerous or aggressive, the dog owner or person keeping the dog will be held liable. This means that if the dog bit a person or animal and the owner had knowledge of the attack, then every time the dog bites someone they are responsible. This liability or responsibility comes from keeping or harboring a dog that is known to be aggressive or violent.
Legal consequences for the “dangerous dog” owner
There are very few laws in Arkansas that deal with dog ownership. Under Arkansas Code Title 20. Public Health and Welfare. Subtitle 2. Health and Safety. Chapter19. Animals:
(a)(1) As used in this section, “domesticated animals” includes, but is not limited to, sheep, goats, cattle, swine, and poultry.
(2) A person owning or having in possession or under control a dog is liable for damages to the owner or owners of a domesticated animal killed or injured by the dog for the full value of the domesticated animal killed or injured.
(b)(1) A person engaged in raising domesticated animals or owning domesticated animals who sustains a loss or damage to any of his or her domesticated animals by a dog has a right of action against the owner, possessor, or controller of the dog.
(2) A person knowing that a dog has killed or is about to catch, injure, or kill a domesticated animal has the right to kill the dog, without liability to the owner of the dog.
If your dog has been bitten by another dog, you need to know your rights. The lack of actual dog bite laws in Arkansas mean that situations involving a dog bite can quickly become very complex. Contact The Law Offices of Alan LeVar today to get the help you need and the justice you deserve.