Visitor Question

What is the law regarding government officials right to access a property?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Kentucky)

We live on 30 acres in the country and our house is 700 feet from the road. We allow our female pit bull mix to remain unenclosed outside while we are away. She stays on our deck at the house.

An animal control officer came up to our house and onto the deck and when the dog realized it was a stranger, she charged the officer aggressively, barking and growling. He discharged his mace at her and she backed off. He was not bitten.

We then were told we are now “flagged” as having a vicious dog. Also we were told that all homes are supposed to be accessible to anyone that wants to approach (police, UPS, Girl Scouts, etc.). It seems to me that the officer was a trespasser and our dog was just protecting our home.

(This dog was dumped by someone and we had her vaccinated and licensed and kept her rather than taking her to the pound. We were unaware that she would act that way as she had not had contact with any uninvited guests since she arrived.)

Are we responsible now to either keep her penned or turn her over to the pound? What is the law regarding government officials, such as animal control, right to access a property? What about the law that all homes must be accessible to anyone who wants to approach? 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 Anonymous,

The answers to your questions lie in a review of Kentucky Revised Statutes. Below we have cited the applicable statutes related to dogs and animal control officers.

Under Kentucky Statute Section 258.235 subsection 7:

“It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any vicious dog, after receiving an order under subsection (5) of this section, to permit the dog to run at large, or to appear in public except as provided in subsection (3) of this section. Any vicious dog found running at large may be killed by any animal control officer or peace officer without liability for damages for the killing.”

Subsection 3 reads as follows:

“(3) Any dog determined to be vicious by a court and allowed to be returned to an owner shall be confined in a locked enclosure at least seven (7) feet high or a locked kennel run with a secured top. The dog may leave the enclosure only to visit the veterinarian or to be turned in to an animal shelter. The dog shall be muzzled if leaving the enclosure for either of these purposes.”

In addition, under Section 258.225 subsection (2):

“It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with any peace officer, animal control officer, or agent in the enforcement of this chapter.”

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: September 21, 2015

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