The Gavel Comes Down on “Dog Laundering”

The Indiana Court of Appeals has just held that an animal shelter can be held liable for injuries caused by “dog laundering” — concealing a dog’s history of biting people with the goal of adopting-out the dog, whether the history was known or ascertainable.

I coined the term “dog laundering” because this is just like money laundering (moving money from party to party in order to conceal its criminal origins). This is something I have been warning about for at least 15 years, and has reached scandalous levels, making the public justifiably wary about adopting a dog.

The animal shelter defended itself by disputing that it had actual knowledge the dog was vicious. The court said actual knowledge was unnecessary to prove because the shelter had a duty to seek the truth about the dog before adopting it out. “[W]e hold Southside [Animal Shelter, Inc.], as the owner and/or keeper of Grieg [the dog], had a duty to inform the Browns of Grieg’s ‘vicious characteristics’ so far as Southside knew, or to the extent such knowledge was ascertainable by the exercise of reasonable care.” (Page 11 of the slip opinion, linked below.)

To avoid getting sued and/or facing criminal charges, animal shelters, rescue groups and adoption groups MUST follow the procedures I outlined in AVOIDING LIABILITY WHEN WORKING WITH DOGS (see

The case is Brown v. Southside Animal Shelter, Inc., summarized at

Avoiding Liability