Kentucky Dog Law

Liability Statute

Under this strict liability statute, the owner of a dog that injures someone is liable for all damages, unless the injured person is trespassing on the owner's property.

Vicious Dog Statute

Under this statute, a person who is "attacked" by a dog can file a complaint in Kentucky's District Court that charges the owner with keeping a vicious dog. The statute states that an "attack" means a dog's attempt to bite or a dog's successful bite of a human, so long as the victim did not illegally enter or trespass on the dog owner's property at the time of the attack. After the complaint is filed, a District Court judge will hear the case and then determine if the dog is "vicious." If the dog owner fails to appear in court, or if the judge finds that the owner's dog viciously, and without cause, attacked a person, the owner will be responsible to pay for all damages. In that case, the judge is also required to order the owner of the vicious dog to confine the dog in a locked enclosure at least 7 feet high or in a locked kennel run with a secure top. Under the statute, the dog is only permitted to leave the enclosure to visit a veterinarian or to be turned into an animal shelter. At these times, the law requires that the dog be muzzled.

The statute also makes it illegal for a vicious dog to run at large. If a vicious dog is found running at large, an animal control or peace officer may kill the animal.

Reporting Requirements

Kentucky law requires that doctors report a dog bite victim's name, age, gender, and the precise location of the bite to the local health department within 12 hours of rendering treatment. In cases where the victim is a child and no medical attention is sought, the law requires the child's parent or guardian to report the bite. If the victim is an adult who fails to seek medical attention, the law requires the victim or a person caring for the victim to make the report.

Authority to Kill or Seize Dog

Any person who observes a dog attacking a person is authorized to kill or seize the dog, without liability.

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