A 78-year-old Fort Worth, Texas man was attacked by three Rottweilers in his front yard last weekend after they escaped through the fence of their nearby backyard. The man was luckily able to scare the dogs off with a stick after running into his garage, but he didn't escape personal injury.
The man suffered dog bites to his hands and wrist and bled all over the driveway. He said he was lucky because it could have been a lot worse.
There has been some recent strengthening of the criminal laws regarding dangerous dogs. First, the dog (or dogs, in this case) must be designated as “dangerous dogs” by the local municpatity. This finding also mandates that the owner of the “dangerous dog” register the dog with the local animal control authority and provide proof of liability by: (1) carrying at least $100,000 of liability insurance to cover any injuries suffered by a dog attack; (2) have current rabies vaccine of the dog; and (3) have a secure enclosure in which the dog is kept. The owner must also pay an annual fee for keeping a dangerous dog.
If a dangerously-designated dog makes an unprovoked attack causing bodily injury on another person outside of the pet's secured enclosure, then the dog owner can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor (Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.44). Also, if a person is found guilty under this law, then the court may order the dangerous dog to be destroyed.
I handle dog bite cases and I know that vicious dogs are something to take very seriously—especially Rottweillers, which are known to be an aggressive breed. And three of them all attacking at once?? It's very fortunate that this man's dog bites weren't any worse.
In the present case, I have no idea if Fort Worth had already designated these particular dogs as dangerous. But that designation does not address whether the owner can be held civilly liable for the damages. That is a completely different standard.