Louisiana Dog Law

Liability Statute

Louisiana has a negligence liability statute that makes a dog owner liable for damages caused by his or her dog, only if the plaintiff shows that the owner knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that the animal's behavior would cause damage, that damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that the owner failed to act reasonably to prevent the injury. In cases where the dog owner could have prevented the injury, the owner will be liable, unless the owner shows the injured person provoked the attack.

Dangerous Dog Statute

The Meaning of a "Dangerous Dog"

A "dangerous dog" is:

  • any dog that, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the past 36 months engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury when the person or the dog are off the dog owner's property; or
  • any dog that, when unprovoked, bites a person and causes an injury; or
  • any dog that, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36-month period has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury to a domestic animal off the owner's property.

Dog Owners' Legal Responsibilities

  • Dangerous dogs must be properly restrained or confined. When on the owner's property, the dog must be either kept indoors or outdoors in a secure enclosure. The enclosure must be a fence or other structure that prevents the entry of young children, as well as the escape of the dog. When off the owner's property, the dog must be restrained by a leash that prevents escape or access to other persons.
  • The owner of a dangerous dog must post signs around the dog's outdoor enclosure that are no more than 30 feet apart and placed at each entry and exit point. The signs must bear the words, "Beware of Dog," or "Dangerous Dog," in letters at least three-and-one-half inches high and must be readily visible to any person approaching the enclosure.
  • Dangerous dogs must be registered with the local dog licensing authority.

Dog Owners' Liability

In addition to civil liability, violations of the Dangerous Dog Statute result in fines of up to $300. Anyone who fails to restrain and confine a dangerous dog as ordered by the court will be fined between $100 and $500.

Vicious Dog Statute

The Meaning of a "Vicious Dog"

  • A "vicious dog" is one that was previously determined to be a dangerous dog and that, when unprovoked, kills or inflicts serious bodily injury on a human. Under Louisiana law, "serious bodily injury" is an injury that results in unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, or protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of bodily function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death.
  • It is unlawful to own a vicious dog in Louisiana.

Dog Owners' Liability

In addition to civil liability, owners of vicious dogs that injure someone's face fines up to a $500 fine and six months in prison.

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