While each state has its own dog biting laws, some of these laws include a dangerous and vicious dog statute that specifically defines:
- When a dog is legally considered to be dangerous or vicious
- How such dogs are to be maintained by dog owners to minimize the risk of harm to the public
- When owners of dangerous or vicious dogs may be considered to be liable for the injuries or harm their dogs have caused.
Illinois Dangerous and Vicious Dog Statute
While there is currently not a dangerous and vicious dog statute in the state of Missouri, Illinois does have such a statute in place. According to Illinois law, a dangerous dog is defined as any dog that, when unrestrained or unattended by its owner, acts aggressively towards individuals in public places.
Each county in Illinois stipulates the specific circumstances in which owners of dangerous dogs would be considered to be liable for any harm their dogs have caused.
A vicious dog, according to Illinois law, refers to any dog that:
- Attacks a person or another animal when unprovoked
- Has a tendency towards aggressive behavior if not handled in a particular way
- Has been noted to be a dangerous dog at least three times in the past.
Legally, owners of vicious dogs are required to keep these animals in areas bound by fences that are at least 6 feet high. Vicious dogs are only legally allowed to be taken out of these enclosures when they are being taken to the vet (or upon a court order) and must be muzzled and restrained in such cases.
When dangerous or vicious dogs are not properly handled and attack a person or another animal, the victim (whether that be the person who was attacked or the owner of the animal that was attacked) can sue the owner of the dangerous or vicious dog to obtain compensation for his injuries and losses.
Are any Dog Breeds Illegal in Illinois?
There are no statewide bans on specific breeds. However, municipalities can place restrictions or bans on breeds deemed dangerous. Most commonly, bans impact Rottweilers and pit bulls. Most cities or towns with breed-specific regulations restrict, rather than outright ban the animals. Owners who fail to follow these regulations may face higher penalties when their animals attack someone.
Are There Criminal Charges for Owners of Vicious Dogs That Attack People?
Owners with known vicious dogs in Illinois can be charged with a felony if their animal attacks someone.
It is important to remember that criminal charges are different from civil action. You can hold the owner of a vicious dog accountable for medical bills, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering regardless of criminal charges. Civil proceedings are separate from criminal charges and can occur even if an owner is not charged with a crime.
Which Dog Breeds are Most Likely to be Labeled as Vicious?
Rottweilers, pit bulls and other bull terriers, along with Akio and Tosa Inus are most commonly identified as dangerous. These dogs do not cause the most dog bite injuries, but they do cause the highest number of fatalities.
Curiously, a University of Pennsylvania meta-analysis of dog bites found that Dachshunds and Chihuahuas, followed by Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Beagles, and Jack Russell Terriers are all more prone to attack people than those breeds commonly identified as dangerous. However, a dog needn’t be labeled “vicious” for victims of injury to seek compensation.
When you or someone you love is seriously injured by a dog, irrespective of its breed, you are entitled to seek compensation for all of your damages.
Are Vicious Dogs That Attack People Put Down?
Vicious dogs may be euthanized following more than one attack. However, this is not something that is determined during civil proceedings.
The courts can decide to euthanize a dog with a history of violent and aggressive behavior, particularly when that behavior has resulted in multiple injuries or death. This decision will occur outside of your personal injury or wrongful death claim.
What if a Vicious Dog Kills Someone?
When a vicious dog kills someone you love, you are entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Tragically, the most common victims of fatal dog attacks are children, most often those under the age of 10. Young boys suffer the highest number of these attacks.
Those who have lost a loved one to a vicious dog have every right to seek damages well beyond insurance companies' offers. Talking to one of our attorneys is an excellent way to learn more about this option, your rights, and the best way to seek justice for your family.
If you or a loved one was hurt by a vicious dog, contact the knowledgeable dog bite attorneys at Brown & Brown, LLP to build your case. Our lawyers know the state-specific laws in Missouri and Illinois, and we can discuss your case at 2 convenient locations. Call 314-333-3333 or 573-333-3333 for our St. Louis office or to talk to a lawyer in Illinois, IL, at 618-888-8888.