What Happens if You Own a Dangerous Dog in Colorado?
Your family furball may be friendly to your family, but that doesn’t mean they will be gentle and patient with others. In Colorado, if your dog causes serious injury to another person or another animal, it can be classified as a “dangerous dog.” Under Colorado’s “Dangerous Dog Law,” a Colorado dog bite attorney can pursue compensation from dog owners whose dangerous dogs cause property damage, personal injuries, or wrongful deaths.
Dangerous Dog Statute in Colorado
C.R.S. 18-9-204.5 clearly defines ownership or control over a dangerous dog as a criminal offense. Dangerous dogs include those that injure or kill a person or domestic animal. It also includes animals that have a history of aggressive behaviors and animals that are specifically trained to engage in illegal animal fighting.
Ownership of a dangerous dog in Colorado can be pursued as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is determined by the prosecuting attorney based on whether the dog attacks another person, animal, or personal property. The attorney will consider the severity of the inflicted injuries, and whether the attack was part of a pattern of offenses involving the same animal.
Penalties under Colorado’s dangerous dog statute are severe and can include incarceration, hefty fines, and restitution. The court may also order euthanasia of the animal. If euthanasia is ordered following the exhaustion of all appeals, the procedure must be performed by a licensed veterinarian in a safe and humane manner.
Most first offenses are treated as misdemeanors. However, if the animal kills another person, it is automatically treated as a felony and can result in incarceration of up to 3 years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000.
What About Mitigating Factors?
Colorado statutes do allow for consideration of a limited number of mitigating factors when a dog is involved in an attack. In these situations, the statute does not hold owners liable for an attack. These include:
- Whether the dog was defending a person or property.
- Whether the dog was provoked.
- Whether the owner was engaged in a legal, but potentially hazardous activity, such as herding livestock or hunting wild game.
We work hard to protect our clients against the attacks of dangerous dogs in Colorado. We invite you to contact the team at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. at (303) 447-1144 to speak with a Colorado dog bite attorney about your claim.
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