You may or may not want to make sure that the dog owner is officially ordered to keep the dog muzzled, or in a dog run, or even to put the dog down. Often the decision is made by animal control, but frequently the authorities are focused on preventing animal cruelty, organized dog fights, or the violations of other animal health and safety laws. If the dog is a threat and you want to do something about it, consider the following possible remedies:
- A small claims court action, if the dog has destroyed property or has inflicted a very minor injury (i.e., no blood, no disability, little pain, no scar). This is something that you can do without an attorney.
- A complaint to the police, private patrol company, homeowners’ association or landlord. In an appropriate case, a letter from your attorney will be taken more seriously.
- A report to animal control officials. This has to be done only by you, not your lawyer. However, it is uncommon for animal control departments to actually do something about a dangerous dog. Therefore, an attorney is often required for the purpose of prodding them into doing their job properly.
- Making an insurance claim will frequently will result in pressure upon the dog owner from the insurance company. The owner might be told that his insurance will be cancelled or coverage limited if he keeps the dog. Many times this is the most effective way of dealing with a dangerous dog.
- Grassroots citizen action, taken at the city council level. Dangerous dogs are a nationwide issue, and the containment of this growing problem is every city’s concern. When a person suffers injury because of a dog, the elected city officials will listen and often will take action of some sort, if you speak up. The available remedies can range from their putting pressure on the animal control department, to the passage of tighter laws to control dangerous dogs. If you have an attorney to assist you with a proposal for action, you stand a good chance of changing things for the better in your community.