Under Colorado law, a specific statute defines a dog as dangerous. It states that a dog is dangerous if it inflicts bodily injury or causes the death of a person or domestic animal. It will also be deemed unsafe if the dog displays behaviors that would reasonably be determined to be dangerous. That is the state statute. C.R.S. §18-9-204.5. The complicated part in Colorado is that you could alternatively be charged locally under city, county or municipal codes/ordinances. There are different versions of every municipality’s dangerous dog code. It is up to the Animal Control officer or police officer who responds to the incident whether you will be charged criminally under a municipal code or the state statute. While each municipality has a version of the state statute, it does not necessarily track the same language and definitions as the state statute, making this area of law very complicated.
Can I Be Charged Criminally If My Dog Bites Someone Or If Someone Claims That My Dog Is Dangerous?
Yes, you could be charged criminally as the owner of the dog. In Colorado, the dog does not need to bite someone or another animal to be considered dangerous or for you to be charged criminally. Your dog could bark aggressively towards a person or act in a manner that scares that individual. That, too, would be enough for you to be charged criminally even if your dog never makes contact with that person or another dog. It will be up to the charging officer whether or not you are charged criminally based on the dog’s conduct or allegations from the reporting party. Remember, anything you say during an interaction with officers and witnesses can be use against you and your dog later.
Will My Dog Be Quarantined or Impounded If It Bites Someone?
That depends. Your dog will likely be quarantined if it bites another person or animal, but it may not be impounded. Your dog could be impounded if it is considered dangerous. It is up to the Animal Control officers who come to the scene whether or not they believe your dog should be impounded based on the severity of the bite. It is essential to know your criminal rights when you are interacting with Animal Control Officers in these situations. Some jurisdictions allow for home quarantine, but if animal control decides to impound your dog, it may be difficult to have your dog released after the quarantine period. When a dog is impounded by Animal Control after a bite, they often seek relinquishment and euthanasia. If the dog is removed from the jurisdiction prior to the dog being impounded by Animal Control, the officers will no longer have jurisdiction to seize your dog.
Will My Dog Be Euthanized If It Bites Someone?
That depends on the seriousness of the allegations and the position of Animal Control and the prosecuting attorney. Often in these cases, Animal Control takes the position that they believe that your dog is too dangerous to be released and should be surrendered and euthanized. If your dog is impounded, you must timely pay the impound costs associated with keeping your dog. The day cost of impound vary between jurisdictions. You may also request an impound hearing to allow the court to determine whether your dog may be released pending trial or resolution of your case. It is crucial to talk to an attorney who practices in this area because the impound laws for each municipality and state offenses vary and there are many overlapping rights between a civil impoundment hearing and criminal trial.
While dogs are often treated as property pursuant to the law, dog owners understand that they are much more than property and are integral members of our family. If your dog is impounded or charged as a dangerous dog, it is vital to get counsel who practices in this area to allow for the best possible outcome for getting your dog released and not euthanized. Some alternative options for impoundment may also be explored such as negotiating a release or a transfer to a different facility such as a veterinarian’s office or dog training and boarding facility to keep your dog alive and litigate your case appropriately.
For more information on Dog Bite Cases In The State Of Colorado, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (720) 943-6606 today.
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