Minnesota Dog Law

Liability Statute

Under Minnesota law, if a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures a person who is acting peacefully in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner is liable in damages to the person in the full amount of the injury sustained. The term "owner" includes any person harboring or keeping a dog, but the owner shall be primarily liable.

Dangerous Dog Statute

The Meaning of a "Dangerous Dog"

A "dangerous dog" is:

  • a dog that, without provocation, inflicts substantial bodily harm on a human. Substantial bodily harm is bodily injury that involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or that causes a temporary but substantial impairment of the function of a bodily organ, or that causes a fracture of any bodily member.
  • a dog that kills a domestic animal, without provocation, while off the owner's property; or
  • a dog that has been found to be "potentially dangerous," and thereafter aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.

The Meaning of a "Potentially Dangerous Dog"

A "potentially dangerous dog" is:

  • a dog that, when unprovoked, bites a human or domestic animal;
  • a dog that, when unprovoked, chases or approaches a person in any place, other than the dog owner's property, in an apparent attitude of attack; or
  • a dog that has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack when unprovoked, and causes or otherwise threatens the safety of humans or domestic animals.

Legal Responsibilities of Owners of Potentially Dangerous Dogs

Under Minnesota law, a potentially dangerous dog must have a microchip. Additionally, individual counties or cities can regulate the legal responsibilities of potentially dangerous dogs owners.

Legal Responsibilities of Owners with Dangerous Dogs

  • Dangerous dogs owners must register their dogs with local authorities and pay an annual registration fee of up to $500.
  • Dangerous dogs must be identified with a microchip device and wear a tag with a dangerous dog symbol on their collars.
  • Owners must keep dangerous dogs securely confined indoors, or, if outdoors, in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure suitable to prevent the dog from escaping. When the dog is outside the enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under the reasonable control of a responsible person.
  • Owners of dangerous dogs must post their property with a clearly-visible warning sign that includes a symbol to inform children that the dog is on the property. The warning symbol is a uniform one, specified by Minnesota's Commissioner of Public Safety.
  • Dangerous dog owners must post a surety bond of at least $300,000 payable to any person injured, or they must maintain a liability policy of at least $300,000, insuring the owner for personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog.

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