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If a Dog Bites Someone, Will it Be Put Down?

May 8, 2019

Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly states in the nation. Step onto the streets and you will find a large number of dog owners happily interacting with their pets. Similarly, the city has a history of dog-friendly policies and continues to provide a number of dog parks and dog-accessible areas for pet owners of all types. To be sure, most of Colorado’s dog population enjoys a rich, fulfilling relationship with their human companions.

Unfortunately, dogs sometimes react negatively to situations other than the ideal scenarios depicted above. Sometimes, a dog that is cornered, afraid, or endangered may react by biting. In some cases, the dogs involved have previously shown the propensity to bite. In others, a dog bite attack can appear to come out of the blue. If you were bitten by a dog in Denver, talk to a Denver dog attack attorney. Our firm can help you recover the damages you deserve.

Dog owners and bite victims alike often wonder about the eventual fate of the dog involved in the attack. Does Colorado euthanize dogs after attacks? If so, under what circumstances?

Dog Bite Liability

First, it is important to discuss the situations in which dog owners hold liability for the damages their dogs cause during a bite or other attack situation. In fact, Colorado is a unique dog bite law state. While most other states assign either strict liability or negligence under premises liability laws, Colorado utilizes a combination of the two.

When a dog bite causes severe bodily damage or death, Colorado’s dog bite statute comes into play. The statute assigns strict liability to the dog owner. Strict liability applies even if the owner had no way of knowing the dog would act aggressively. Liability also applies regardless of a dog’s past non-aggressive status. Several severe bodily injury bites can occur.

  • Bites causing severe injuries that lead to a substantial risk of death
  • Bites causing permanent disfigurement
  • Bites causing the loss or severely reduced use of a limb, organ, organ system, or other body part
  • Bites causing fractures, broken bones, or burns

If the bite occurred while the victim was on public property or legally upon private property, Colorado statute enacts strict liability.

Conversely, if the resulting injuries are not severe, regular premises liability or other negligence rules may apply. The victim must prove that the dog’s owner failed to provide reasonable care in order to control the dog or prevent it from causing injury to others. Then, the victim must prove that the situation directly caused the dog bite injuries.

Dog Euthanasia in Colorado

Under Colorado statute, a dangerous dog is a dog that has bitten a human or animal and either:

  • Caused serious bodily injury or death
  • Shown the potential to cause serious bodily injury or death, or
  • Trained for dog fighting

If a dog bites a person or another animal in the state of Colorado and causes severe bodily injury, strict liability comes into play. However, if the dog has previously shown the potential to cause severe injuries by biting in a less severe manner or training for dog fighting, the owner must register the dog on a dangerous dogs directory.

When a dog severely injures another person, the owner may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the injuries or death involved. If a judge finds the owner guilty – or if the owner pleads guilty – of misdemeanor or felony charges in a case involving serious bodily injuries, death, or a second instance of a less-severe bite, local animal authorities confiscate the dog and place it in a shelter at the owner’s expense. Cases of deferred and delayed judgement result in the same scenario.

The owner then has the opportunity to appeal the court’s decision. At this time, the dog remains in the care of the authorities until the court approves or denies the appeal. Unfortunately, if the court upholds the judgement, a judge can order the euthanization of the animal by a court ordered veterinarian.