Texas Dog Law
Texas does not have a Dog Bite Statute.
Common Law Liability
Generally, a dog owner will not be found liable for damages the dog causes, unless the dog is vicious and the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the viciousness. If the animal is vicious or has aggressive tendencies and the owner has knowledge of that propensity, the owner is subject to liability under the law of strict liability. If an animal is non-vicious, the owner may still be subject to liability for his or her negligence in handling the dog.
Dangerous Dog Statute
The Meaning of a “Dangerous Dog”
A “dangerous dog” is:
- a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and the attack occurs outside of the dog’s enclosure; or
- a dog that commits unprovoked attacks outside of its enclosure that cause a person to reasonably believe the dog will attack and cause bodily injury.
Legal Responsibilities of Dog Owners
- Dangerous dogs must be kept in a secure enclosure. The secure enclosure must be a fenced area or a structure that is locked, capable of preventing the entry of the general public, including children, capable of preventing the dog from escaping, and clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog. When the dog is not in the enclosure, it must be restrained at all times on a leash or in the immediate control of a person.
- A dangerous dog owner must register the dog with the local animal control authority.
- A dangerous dog owner must maintain liability insurance coverage of at least $100,000 to cover damages for bodily injuries caused by the dog.
Liability of Dog Owners
- A dangerous dog owner commits a criminal offense if the dog, when unprovoked, attacks a person outside the dog’s enclosure and causes bodily injury.
- In all cases where a dog causes death or serious bodily injury, the owner will be criminally liable. A serious bodily injury is one characterized by severe bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle that would cause a reasonable person to seek medical attention, even though the injured person may not have actually sought medical attention. In cases of serious bodily injury or death, provocation and location of the attack is irrelevant. Additionally, a judge may order the dangerous dog destroyed and impose a $10,000 civil penalty on the owner.
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