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
Potentially Dangerous Dog Definition
A potentially dangerous dog is a dog:
- that chases or menaces a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner, causing less than severe injury to a person or domestic animal
- in a menacing manner, approaches without provocation any person or domestic animal as if to attack, or has demonstrated a propensity to attack without provocation or otherwise to endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals
- is running at large and has been impounded by an animal control agency three or more times in D.C. within any 12-month period
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
- any dog engaging in any behavior that would satisfy a potentially dangerous dog classification, subsequent to being determined a potentially dangerous dog
Legal Responsibilities of Dangerous Dog Owners
- An owner must either confine a dangerous dog indoors or secure confinement outdoors in a locked structure designed and constructed to:
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.
- deter escape of the dog;
- protect the dog from the elements; and
- prevent contact with the dog from humans and other domestic animals.
- Owners of dangerous dogs must register their dogs with local authorities as dangerous, and have a microchip containing owner information implanted.
- 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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