Strict Criminal And Civil Liability Is Needed To Curb Dogs Running At Large

Owning a dog brings the duty of making sure that the animal does not go at large upon public property, because many terrible accidents involve dogs running at large. The nation’s “at large laws” often contain loopholes, however, that allow dog owners to escape responsibility for such accidents. A new mauling incident in Maryland has underscored this problem.

Two children are recovering after being attacked by a pit bull in Towson, Maryland, over the weekend, and police said the dog’s owner will not be charged.

One of two caged pit bulls got out and attacked two boys playing nearby. The pit bull attacked Domenic Solesky, 10, biting his face and severing a major artery in his leg. The child had to get two blood transfusions and is still in the care of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Baltimore County police investigating the incident said the dog’s owner faces no criminal charges because the owner violated no laws. Cpl. Mike Hill said the dog’s pen met code standards. “This owner owns two dogs. They are both American terrier pit bulls, both registered, both confined and locked in a pen. The pen is … steel fenced, which is legitimate and legal and it was locked at the time,” Hill said.

In Tennessee, I have assisted in the drafting of an at-large law that would impose strict criminal liability upon dog owners in cases like the one described above. Every state should have a strict liability law for this situation.