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Failing to Restrain a Dangerous Dog – Criminal Offense?

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Over the years I have blogged extensively about the dangers of dogs. In the search for accountability, there have been many battles with various readers over whether breed or owner is to blame for any particular dog bite. There are people who strongly advocate these various positions in thoughtful and reasoned comments.

With the above in mind, I would like to branch off into a sad but interesting story on newsok.com this morning. The story details a vicious dog bite incident where a 48 year-old Oklahoma City woman was bitten and clawed by four dogs (pit bull-mix) outside her home. She eventually escaped to her jeep where she was trapped until a neighbor summoned help.

The owner of the 4 dogs is a 48 year old woman who has now been charged with a misdemeanor count of failure to restrain a dangerous dog. This law is found at Okla. Stat. tit. 4 § 42.4 and states:

It is unlawful for the owner of any dog that previously has:

1. When unprovoked inflicted bites on any person or severely injured any person either on public or private property; or

2. When unprovoked created an imminent threat of injury or death to any person,

to permit such dog to run at large or aggressively bite or attack any person while such person is lawfully upon public or private property…

According to the article, an Oklahoma County deputy recognized some of the dogs from a previous attack less than a month earlier where on May 3, three dogs bit a 7-year-old boy, who needed stitches on his head and arm. According to an affidavit filed by police, the owner was warned that she could not allow the dogs to roam freely and said she would get rid of them.

She obviously did not get rid of them and must now face the consequences criminally. For all those who state with such passion that it’s the owner, not the breeds fault in such circumstances, I’m sure you will agree with a criminal finding.

I would be remissed if I didn’t state that dog bite incidents are typically covered by the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. It’s important to seek the advice of an experienced Oklahoma dog bite attorney as insurance companies typically try to lowball an unrepresented client.