Many owners don’t know what steps to take when they risk losing their dogs. Find out your rights – and your dog’s – so you know how to act.
Everyone knows that we, as humans and citizens, have basic rights. Lawyers and friends advise to “know your rights” before you get into a situation with the law. As pet owners, it’s important to know that dogs have rights, too.
If your dog attacked or bit someone, or caused extensive property damage, law enforcement may take away your dog. Both you as an owner and your dog have rights if your dog is impounded for any reason.
If law enforcement declares your dog vicious, your dog will most likely be impounded and euthanized. Obviously, many owners want to fight for their pets, but many do not know if or how they can fight. If you are at risk of losing your dog, request a court date prior to euthanization for a chance to prove that your dog is not vicious and that you are an able owner. If possible, hire an attorney to help you in your case. Gather witnesses of the incident and consider asking neighbors, friends, and your veterinarian to testify to your dog’s personality and your ability as an owner. Several organizations can provide temperament testing to help in court.
If the judge rules against impounding or euthanizing your dog, you may still face harsh restrictions to abide by. Some of these guidelines include posting a warning on your property, prohibiting your pet to roam off property freely, keeping your pet in an enclosed area at all times, or intensive behavioral training.
If the judge does not seem convinced of your ability to control your dog, request the option to find a home for your dog on a remote home or farm, where he may pose less of a risk. Although this option may lose you ownership of your pet if the judge agrees, it can save your pet’s life.
Of course, the best measures you can take as a pet owner is to prevent an incident from occurring. Read about how to keep your dog from biting here.
Sources: Animal Legal Defense Fund