Washington, D.C. Dog Law
Under this statute, if a dog injures a person while it is running at large, the owner’s lack of knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities, standing alone, cannot absolve the owner from a finding of negligence.
Dangerous Dog Statute
The Meaning of a Dangerous Dog
Under D.C. law, a “dangerous dog” is:
- a dog that has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal without provocation
- a dog that, in a menacing manner, approaches, without provocation, any person or domestic animal as if to attack; or
- a dog that has demonstrated a propensity to attack without provocation or otherwise to endanger the safety of humans or domestic animals.
Legal Responsibilities of Dangerous Dog Owners
- An owner must either confine a dangerous dog indoors or confine it outdoors in a locked pen or structure measuring at least 5 feet wide by 10 feet long and 6 feet high. The structure must prevent entry of young children, as well as escape by the animal. When the dog is not confined, it must be controlled by a responsible person and muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash that is no longer than 4 feet.
- Owners of dangerous dogs must register their dogs with local authorities as dangerous.
- Dangerous dog owners must maintain liability insurance coverage of at least $50,000 for personal injuries inflicted by the dog.
- Owners must post their property with a written warning that a dangerous dog is on the property. The warning must have a conspicuous warning symbol that informs children of the dangerous dog’s presence.
Liability of Owners with Dangerous Dogs
In addition to civil liability, if a dangerous dog kills or seriously injures a human or domestic animal, without provocation, the owner is subject to a fine of up to $10,000.
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