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Whom Does the Dangerous Dog Statute Actually Punish?

Judges and prosecutors claim that the dangerous dog statute in Colorado punishes the owner, not the dog. They claim this is why a person can get a "second offense" for dangerous dog with a different dog. However, the reality is very different.


The reality is that a dog can be taken away from the owner on the very first bite. Or, if an owner is not present when the attack happens, the owner can still be charged. For example, many people are using dog sitters and walkers and accidents can still happen. Often, even though the owner is out of town and the incident happened under the supervision of the dog sitter or dog walker, the owner is the person in court facing criminal charges.


If the statute was actually meant to punish the bad actor (i.e., the human incapable of controlling the animal) and not the animal, then the dog walker or dog sitter would be charged. The purpose of the dangerous dog statute is to supposedly make sure the owner (presumably the one present when the dog attack occurs) never creates the same circumstances where the dog can "behave" that way again. But if it was a different person than the owner who created the situation in which the dog attack occurred, and the owner is the one charged, then that is not serving the purpose of the statute. In short, the statute is not designed to punish the actual bad actor, but to punish the dog for being a dog.


It is statutes such as these that are best left to be changed by the legislature to actually reflect the reality of animal law today. However, our pet lawyers are working hard to change Colorado's animal laws through creative legal arguments and effective advocacy in the courtroom. If you are facing criminal charged for animal attack or dangerous dog, call our Colorado animal lawyers at The Animal Law Firm at 303-623-4000 in Boulder and surrounding areas.

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