The answer to this question depends on the city in which you live. Although no states have restricted Rottweilers or pit bulls, many cities and towns do. For example, the city of Santa Monica in California has restricted pit bulls, and Walkerton, Indiana has banned Rottweilers. Other places such as Westfield, Illinois and Jacksonville, Lonoke, North Little Rock and Beebe Arkansas have banned Dobermans. These types of restrictive laws are called Breed Specific Legislation. Refer to this list of breed specific legislation ban cities.
The best way to avoid a negligence suit for a dog attack, or a wrongful death involving a dog attack, is to take all proper steps to safeguard against such attacks. This list is designed to counter the “breach” element of a negligence lawsuit; i.e. the plaintiff cannot prove that you were careless in allowing your dog to attack. These steps include, but are not limited to:
- Keep your dog muzzled when out in public
- Spay or neuter your dog
- Avoid bringing your dog to places where you know young children or infants will be present
- Avoid bringing your dog into untested situations; this includes walks into unfamiliar streets or inviting a guest over that your dog has never encountered before
- Always carry a “big stick” to unlock your dog’s jaw in case your dog does attack someone
- Do not walk the dog unless you are absolutely certain you can control your dog;
- Do not allow minors, including teenagers, to walk these powerful dogs
- Follow any ordinances and/or laws your city may have restricting your dog
Although a lawsuit can be stressful, there are a couple of things that can make a case worse. If you know your dog’s specific breed, do not lie, deceive, or otherwise mislead victims, police, attorneys or the court about the breed of your dog. The truth will eventually come out and you’d rather be seen as honest when it does.
Avoid making any commit about whose fault it was immediately after the attack. Many dog owners blame the victim after an incident, but blaming the victim after the dog has ripped out the victim’s right eye will only make the jury believe that the owner cares more about the dog than the people who were injured.
Federal and state courts have upheld the constitutionality of laws restricting or banning the ownership of specific breeds of dogs. Most challenges to specific breed laws have been over the vagueness of the laws and the use of police powers to do enforce such laws.
Such laws are upheld due to the fact that most dog owners can identity what breed their dog is and experts have testified that the breeds targeted for restrictions have identifiable traits that police can recognize. Police are authorized to enforce these laws because pit-bulls and Rottweilers are considered more dangerous than the average dog due to these specific breeds’ powerful jaws and instinct not to let go of their victims.
That last trait was not exaggerated; a few pit-bulls have been known to cling to its victim even though the dog has become unconscious.
The answer to this question depends on which airline you are flying and what sort of dog you have. Many airlines have restrictions on the breeds that they will allow on board their planes. For example, Continental Airlines does not accept pit bulls, and American Airlines does not accept Dobermans, Rottweilers, Bull Terriers and others. Check with the specific airline you wish to fly with to see what their dog policies are.
If you have a restricted dog, you may be subject to serious liability if your dog is discovered or if it bites someone. If you are considering getting a dog that you fear may be restricted in your area, you may wish to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you can keep the dog in your city and what kind of liability you may be exposed to.