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After being rescued from an icy lake a day earlier, an 85-pound Argentine mastiff attacked a Denver news anchor the next day on live TV. The dog, named Gladiator Maximus, or Max, fell into a frigid Lakewood, Colorado lake Tuesday after chasing a coyote. The dog’s owner did not have the mastiff on a leash and the dog spent about 20 minutes in the water before firefighters arrived to help.

On Wednesday, a live TV news segment was held with the purpose of reuniting the firefighter who rescued the dog, the dog’s owner, and the dog itself. But the reception turned frightening when the mastiff bit the news anchor on the face after she tried to pet the dog. The dog’s owner was subsequently cited for failure to have his dog on a leash, allowing a dog to bite, and failure to have a vaccinated dog. The anchor is reported to be doing well after reconstructive surgery on her lip.

According to the Colorado dog bite statute, someone who has been bitten by a dog is entitled to bring a civil lawsuit to recover economic damages only if they have suffered “serious bodily injury.” The Colorado statues define “serious bodily injury” as an injury that:

"…involves a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.”

“Bodily injury” means:

"…any physical injury that results in severe bruising, muscle tears, or skin lacerations requiring professional medical treatment or any physical injury that requires corrective or cosmetic surgery.”

The Denver anchor’s injuries most likely fit within the definition of “bodily injury,” but it is uncertain whether they fit into the Colorado statutes definition of “serious bodily injury,” the threshold requirement to bring a civil lawsuit in Colorado. It all hinges on whether her facial injuries will result in “serious permanent disfigurement.”

Oklahoma's dog bite statute is much less restrictive then Colorado’s. Just like Colorado’s law, the owner of the attacking dog is held strictly liable for the injuries, meaning that no form of negligence needs to be pleaded. But Oklahoma’s statute is more favorable to dog bite victims then Colorado’s because there is no restriction on how serious the injury needs to be. There are no restrictions like “serious bodily injury” found in the Oklahoma statute.

However, in both Colorado and Oklahoma, a dog bite victim is not allowed to recover damages if they have provoked the dog. Here, the TV Anchor was petting the dog and got close to its face. Certainly the dog was stressed after what it had been through he day earlier. If it is determined that the anchor provoked the dog, then any potential lawsuit will be barred.


  1. Gravatar for Stan Morton
    Stan Morton

    The anchor stated that she was going to "kiss" the dog and put her face in position to do so. That was left out of your article. On purpose?

    The real culprit in this story is a stupid owner who had his dog off-leash which is against the law in Denver and suburbs.

    Second level culprit is a person who made close eye contact with a traumatized dog and then, while talking thereby showing her teeth, threatened the dog by "trying to kiss him."

    Third level culprit is the TV station that is now running a series on how to/not-to approach an animal unknown to you.

    Last but not least is a group of ambulance chasers using a sad event for their own purposes.

  2. Gravatar for Noble McIntyre
    Noble McIntyre

    Stan - I don't mind you adding to the conversation (in fact - I encourage it) but it would probably be better if you limited your comments insightful ones as that would make follow- up readers more likely to accepts your points. The gratuitous anti-lawyer comment (which isn't even very original) distracts from your points and doesn't have anything to do with the story. I'm personally fine with you being anti- lawyer as for all I know I'm anti-Stan as well. but it would be short sighted of me to include an anti-Stan comment in my response since I don't know you personally. It would make any readers to my comments disregard any insightful words since i had exhibited such a narrow overall frame of mind. It's just a suggestion - take it for what it's worth.

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