Visitor Question

Two big dogs killed my small dog…

Submitted By: D (Ft. Bend County, TX)

Two big dogs came onto our property and attacked and killed my chihuahua. We do not have a fence, that is how the dogs were able to come onto our property. My chihuahua and chihuahua mix were both outside at the time and they were securely tied up.

My chihuahua was barking at the dogs, making us aware that they were on our property. By the time my dad got out to try to make them go away, one of the dogs bit my chihuahua, yanked her so hard that her collar broke off from around her neck, and killed her. They ran off once they saw my dad coming towards them.

My chihuahua was about 10 years old. Animal control was called and they took the dogs away. Will they put down the aggressive dogs? If the owner claims the dogs, is there anything we can do about this? Can we file a lawsuit against them for this, or for our emotional pain? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear D,

Texas does not have a specific statute (law) regarding when the State may euthanize a dog which has attacked a dog or person. However, the State of Texas adheres to the “Common Law” doctrine of the “one-bite” rule. Common law includes decisions made by judges and juries regarding negligence and legal responsibility of a dog owner.

The predominant case in this area is Marshall v. Ranne, 511 S.W.2d 255, 259 (Tex.1974). In the Marshall case, the court ruled an owner of a non-vicious animal can be “subject to liability for his or her negligent handling of such an animal.”

In this context, negligence means the dog owner knew or should have known his or her dog was dangerous, and with that knowledge failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from harming third parties and/or other animals. When negligence is found, the dog owner may be held responsible for vet bills, burial costs and out-of-pocket expenses for the dog.

Here are some tips for proving liability for dog attacks.

However, there is no statutory or common law allowing compensation to the owner of a dog which has been victimized by another animal.

There does exist a statute addressing the issue of euthanasia of dogs in general. You can read the actual law here.

You can find more information about the Texas requirement for euthanasia here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: August 24, 2015

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