Houston Dog Bite Lawyer | Houston Dog Mauling Lawsuit | Houston Dog Attack Attorney
Harris County Dog Bite Accident Attorney
Dangerous Dog Facts:
- An estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year;
- Approximately 334,000 people are admitted to US emergency rooms annually with dog bite-associated injuries, and another 466,000 are seen in other medical settings;
- An unknown number of other people who have been bitten do not sustain injuries deemed serious enough to require medical attention;
- Almost half of all persons bitten are children younger than 12 years old; and
- People more than 70 years old comprise 10% of those bitten and 20% of those killed.
According to Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health, domesticated dogs comprise most the dog bites in any given year. Even more shocking, Texas was the leader in dog bite fatalities in 2007, with seven fatalities stemming from dog bites that year alone. There is a regional Zoonosis office in Houston located at Texas Department of State Health Services, Zoonosis Control, 425 Polk Avenue, Suite J, Houston, Texas 77023, (713) 767-3300 for all of your needs and questions.
Responsible Dog Ownership in Houston Definitely Can Reduce Houston Dog Bites
As so many things in life, dog bites can be reduced by what happens in the home. A dog is not always the one to blame in the instance of a dog attack or dog bite injury. Many owners use their dogs for illegal dog fights and these dogs are victimized every bit as much as the victims of their attacks, and they too are often severely injured or even killed in dog fighting rings as they fight for their lives. Negligent and abusive dog owners should be held liable for their actions. A decision to be a responsible dog is a personal decision and one that requires responsibility. There are many places in and around Houston, Texas to have your dog trained for obedience. Dog owners are also able to take their dog to an area designated for dogs to play. Dog parks are there so that the owner can take their dog to an area where they can run around and play in an fenced-in and safe place. Dog parks are a responsible place to take your pet to ensure that when they are running off their leash that they will not run away from you and/or cause harm to a person or another animal. Some Dog Training Facilities and Dog Park locations in the General Houston Area include:
Jim Burwell's Petiquette
5126 Hummingbird Street
Houston, TX 77035
Bark Busters Home Dog Training
1001 Avenida De Las Americas
Houston, TX 77010
Rover Oaks Pet Resort
2550 W Bellfort Avenue
Houston, TX 77054
Boneyard Dog Park & Drinkery
8150 Washington Avenue
Houston, TX 77007
Millie Bush Dog Park
16101 Westheimer Parkway
Houston, TX 77077
Dogs should be trained and any sense of aggressive behavior exhibited by a dog should be immediately attended to by the pet owner in order to avoid a future incident. What it boils down to is that if you or a loved one have been bitten, attacked, maimed, or killed by a dog or other animal, you should be entitled to some degree of compensation from the animal’s owner or handler. Contact one of the experienced Houston dog bite lawyers above for a consultation regarding your claim.
Texas’s “One Bite” Rule & Dog Bite Claims Based on Negligence
Texas follows the arcane “one bite rule.” This means that a pet owner is liable when:
- the owner knew that the dog had bitten someone before or had a “dangerous propensity” for biting;
- the bite was caused by the negligence of the person handling the dog;
- the bite was caused by a violation of a leash law, prohibition against dogs trespassing or running at large, or a similar animal control law; or,
- the bite injury was caused intentionally by the owner or person handling the dog.
When it cannot be proved that the dog’s owner or handler knew of the dog’s propensity to bite, negligence can form the basis of a claim. An example of a negligence-based claim could occur when the owner of a dog whose breed is notorious for its violent propensities — such as a pit bull, Rottweiler, or German Shepherd — allows their dog to run loose in a children’s park or other public area without supervision. The dog’s owner will be held liable based on negligence if the dog bites a child in the park.
However, a person does not have to be the dog’s owner to be held liable for a bite victim’s injuries. A child bitten at a day care facility for dogs could, through the child’s parents, make a claim against the pet care center, even though the dog was owned by a third party who was absent at the time of the bite. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite, you should contact a Houston dog bite attorney to pursue your personal injury claims. Even if the dog has no prior history of aggression and has never bitten anyone before, Texas’s “one bite rule” may allow a Houston dog bite injury lawyer to fight your claim successfully, and you deserve compensation for your injuries.
Houston Negligence Per Se Dog Bite Lawyer
When a statute or ordinance is violated and the violation leads to an injury, this is called negligence per se.
Negligence per se is frequently found in cases of dog bites, dog maulings, and dog attacks, often resulting from a violation of:
- leash laws;
- dog trespass laws; or,
- no “free-run” laws.
Usually, these types of dog control laws and ordinances are only found in large Texas cities; however, Houston has an ordinance requiring that dogs be "restrained" at all times. Furthermore, Houston requires that all dogs over four months of age be licensed with the city officials. If you or a loved one has been bitten or mauled by a dog running loose in violation of the law of Houston or Harris County, you should contact a local Houston dog bite attorney immediately.
Lillian’s Law (H.B. 1355)
The so-called “Lillian Stiles Law,” sponsored by Senator Eliot Shapleigh and passed in 2007, increases the jail time for owners who fail to secure their dogs in a reasonable manner, resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another. Under the law, a dog owner will be charged with a third-degree felony if their dog causes serious bodily injury to a victim during an unprovoked attack. A third-degree felony is punishable by 2-10 years of prison time as well as a potential fine of up to $10,000. If the victim dies from an unprovoked dog attack, H.B. 1355 would impose a charge of second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Click here for more information on the passage of Lillian’s Law,
Texas still allows a dog to be chained up, which is not only bad policy, but also dangerous to children and others who are routinely attacked by dogs that have been chained. Lillian’s law helps protect Houston residents from dogs that attack when not reasonably secured and allows Houston dog bite lawyers to sue the dog owners despite lack of previous history of aggression or any provocation from the injury victim. Call a Houston dog bite lawyer today.
Some of Texas' Laws on Dog Bites
Some of the laws are found in the Texas Health & Safety Code, Title 10, Chapter 822 Regulation of Animals:
- Subchapter A General Provisions; Dogs That Attack Persons or Are a Danger to Persons;
Subchapter D Dangerous Dogs;
- 822.041. Definitions;
- 822.042. Requirements for Owner of Dangerous Dog;
- 822.0421. Determination That Dog is Dangerous;
- 822.0422. Reporting of Incident in Certain Counties and Municipalities;
- 822.0423. Hearing;
- 822.043. Registration;
- 822.044. Attack by Dangerous Dog;
- 822.045. Violations;
- 822.046. Defense; and
- 822.047. Local Regulation of Dangerous Dogs
Harris County Dangerous Dog Laws
Harris County has its own set of laws concerning dangerous dogs:
Not later than the 30th day after a person who owns or has custody or control of a dog learns that he/she owns or has custody or control of a dangerous dog, the person must:
Register the dangerous dog with HCPHES VPH. The dog will be registered by HCPHES VPH only after the following conditions have been met: Payment of an annual registration fee of $50.00 to HCPHES VPH;
The person who owns or has custody or control of the dog provides proof that the dangerous dog has been spayed or neutered. The only exceptions to this spaying or neutering requirement shall be if HCPHES VPH or a licensed veterinarian confirms in writing that either the dog is past the age for breeding, or its condition otherwise makes it inadvisable to spay or neuter the dog.The person who owns or has custody or control of the dog obtained liability insurance coverage or showing financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000.00 to cover damages resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person and has provided proof of the liability insurance/financial responsibility to HCPHES VPH.The dangerous dog has been implanted with an identifying computer microchip compatible with the scanning equipment utilized by HCPHES VPH. The information contained in the microchip must be reported to HCPHES VPH.
The person who owns or has custody or control of the dog has obtained prior approval from HCPHES VPH that the enclosure is constructed to satisfy the secure enclosure requirement set forth in subsection C, below.Restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash in the immediate control of a person or in a secure enclosure, as described in subsection C., below.Notify HCPHES VPH of any attack the dangerous dog makes on a person within forty-eight (48) hours of the attack.
Upon registration, the dangerous dog, shall:
be issued a tag and the tag must be displayed on the animal at all times; wear a collar at all times which is bright orange and contains the words "Dangerous Dog" in big black lettering. This collar may be purchased from HCPHES VPH when the dog is initially registered or a collar substantially similar to the HCPHES VPH collar is acceptable as an alternative or replacement; be transported only within a fully enclosed vehicle and a "Dangerous Dog" sign must be posted in a window on each side of the vehicle. To qualify as a “secure enclosure” under subsection A (2), above, the following requirements must be met;: The dangerous dog must be kept in a secure enclosure which prevents the dog from escaping as well as protects the general public from physical access to and/or contact with the dog.
The secure enclosure shall: have a cement floor, unless another material and/or the construction used is as good as a cement floor in preventing the dog from digging or escaping from the enclosure; have a cover or fixed top if the dog is capable of climbing or jumping; have walls which consist of not less than nine (9) gauge chain link or equivalent. Whether a structure qualifies as a "secure enclosure" is subject to HCPHES VPH's approval, and, in this connection:
the person who owns or has custody or control of an animal must give HCPHES VPH reasonable access to inspect the enclosure; HCPHES VPH may require the person who owns or has custody or control to make structural changes within a certain reasonable time to make the enclosure secure; and a structure shall be deemed not to qualify as a secure enclosure if the person who owns or has custody or control does not give HCPHES VPH reasonable access to inspect the enclosure or if structural changes required by HCPHES VPH are not performed. The secure enclosure must be clearly marked as containing a "Dangerous Dog" on each side of the enclosure. Signs may be obtained from HCPHES VPH when the dog is initially registered. Signs substantially similar to those available through HCPHES VPH will fulfill the requirements of this section.
When the dangerous dog is outside of the secure enclosure, the dog must be controlled by a line or leash not more than six (6) feet in length; the line or leash must be held by a person capable of controlling the dog; and the dog must be humanely muzzled. If the dangerous dog is transferred to a new location, not later than the 7th day after the date of the transfer the person who owns or has custody or control shall notify HCPHES VPH of the change of location and provide the address of the new location of the dog. If ownership, custodianship, or control of the dog changes, the name and address of the new person who owns or has custody or control must be provided to HCPHES VPH. In connection with a change in the ownership, custodianship, or control of a dangerous dog: If the new person who owns or has custody or control resides in Harris County, HCPHES VPH will notify the new person who owns or has custody or control that the dog is a dangerous dog; that the registration of a dangerous dog is not transferable; and that the new person who owns or has custody or control is subject to the requirements of these Regulations. When any person in Harris County becomes the owner, custodian, or controller of a dog that has been previously declared dangerous under these Regulations, within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the dog or notice that the dog has been previously declared dangerous (whichever occurs first in time), the new person who owns or has custody or control shall register the dog as required by these Regulations. If the new person who owns or has custody or control is not located in Harris County, HCPHES VPH will notify the new person who owns or has custody or control and the appropriate animal control authority in the area where the dog has been transferred that the dog has been previously determined to be a dangerous dog in Harris County.
Compliance with these Regulations for dangerous dogs is in addition to and concurrent with compliance with rabies control rules and quarantine requirements as set forth in these Regulations and under state law.
SECTION 9. VIOLATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT OF DANGEROUS DOG RESTRICTIONS
A person who owns or has custody or control of a dangerous dog commits an offense if the person fails to comply with any provision of Section 8 of these Regulations. An offense defined in this section is a Class C misdemeanor unless it is shown at trial that the defendant has previously been convicted of a violation identified in this section, in which case an offense is a Class B misdemeanor. Each violation of these Regulations constitutes an act in contempt of Commissioners Court. Commissioners Court has the power to enforce its orders by civil contempt and may punish contempt by fine or imprisonment pursuant to Section 81.024 of the Local Government Code. Each and every day a person fails to comply with these Regulations is a separate violation.The restrictions and requirements of Sections 8 of these Regulations may be enforced concurrently with Chapter 822, Subchapter D, of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended. These Regulations do not restrict or limit the power of the County or State to choose to prosecute any person for criminal or civil penalties pursuant to that subchapter in addition to or as an alternative to prosecution under these Regulations.
If any person violates any provision of Section 8 so that there is a threat to public health and safety, HCPHES VPH may notify the County Attorney and request authorization from Commissioners Court to file suit to enjoin the violation.
SECTION 10. DEFENSES
It is a defense to prosecution under these Regulations that the person is a veterinarian, a peace officer, a person employed by a recognized animal shelter, or a person employed by the state or a political subdivision of the state to deal with stray animals and has temporary ownership, custody or control of the dog in connection with that position. It is a defense to prosecution under these Regulations that the person is an employee of the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a law enforcement agency and trains or uses dogs for law enforcement or corrections purposes. It is a defense to prosecution under these Regulations that the person is a dog trainer or an employee of a guard dog company under the Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies Act (Article 4413)(29bb), Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes).
SECTION 11. REGULATION OF SALE AND SOLICITATION OF LIVE ANIMALS
The sale of live animals is banned if it occurs on a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public highway or road, or in a parking lot. The erection, maintenance, or placement of a structure by a vendor of live animals is banned from a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public highway or road, or in a parking lot.
SECTION 12. VIOLATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT OF SALE AND SOLICITION OF LIVE ANIMALS.
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly offers for sale live animals while on a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public highway or road, or in a parking lot.
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly erects, maintains or places a structure for the purposes of selling live animals on a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public highway or road, or in a parking lot.
A person commits an offense if the person obstructs or threatens to obstruct the removal of a structure that is in violation of this regulation.
Each offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Each day a violation continues is a separate offense.
SECTION 13. UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT OF DOGS
A person who owns or has custody or control of a dog and who uses a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or other device that attaches a dog to a stationary object or trolley system shall comply with Chapter 821, Subchapter D, sections 821.076 through 821.081 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended. Dogs must have a properly fitted collar and restraint system as required by Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. A person who owns or has custody or control of a dog may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or other device that attaches a dog to a stationary object or trolley system that: unreasonably limit the dog’s movement: between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.; or is located within 500 feet of a school; or occurs during extreme weather conditions as defined in Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. A chain, rope, tether, leash, cable, or other device that attaches a dog to a stationary object or trolley system unreasonably limits a dog’s movement if it: uses a collar that is pinch-type, prong-type, or choke-type or that is not properly fitted to the dog; is a length shorter than the greater of: 17 five times the length of the dog, as measured from the tip of the dog’s nose to the base of the dog’s tail; or 10 feet; is in an unsafe condition; or causes injury to the dog.
SECTION 14. VIOLATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT OF UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly violates this subchapter.
A peace officer or Animal Control Officer who has probable cause to believe that an owner is violating Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code shall provide the owner with a written statement of that fact. The statement must be signed by the officer and plainly state the date on which and the time at which the statement is provided to the owner.
A person commits an offense if the person is provided a statement described by Subsection (b) and fails to comply with Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code within 24 hours of the time the owner is provided the statement. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
A person commits an offense if the person violates Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and previously has been convicted of an offense under Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. An offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor.
If a person fails to comply with Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code with respect to more than one dog, the person's conduct with respect to each dog constitutes a separate offense.
If conduct constituting an offense under Subsection D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, the other law, or both.
Sec. 821.080. DISPOSITION OF PENALTY. Notwithstanding any other law, the clerk of a court that collects a penalty under Subchapter D, Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code shall remit the penalty collected for deposit in the general fund of the county.
SECTION 15. DISMISSAL OF CERTAIN MISDEMEANOR CHARGES
When a person is charged with a misdemeanor offense under Sections 4, 5, 6 or 7 of these Regulations, the court, in its sole discretion, may defer the proceedings and allow the person 180 days to present evidence that subsequent to the alleged act, she/he has successfully complied with any reasonable condition imposed on him/her by the court pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, article 45.54. Such condition(s) may include the condition that she/he successfully complete the HCPHES VPH First Offender Program, which requires:
The payment of a $10.00 registration fee; and 18 Attending a 3-hour class presented by HCPHES VPH.
At the end of the 180-day deferral period, if the person charged with the misdemeanor presents evidence that she/he has complied with the condition(s) imposed by the court, the court may dismiss the complaint.
SECTION 16. EFFECTIVE DATE
These Regulations shall become effective on October 1, 2007. All previously adopted rules and regulations are superseded and repealed.
City of Houston Dangerous Dog Laws
As used in this article the following words and phrases shall have the meanings herein ascribed to them, unless the content of their usage clearly indicates another meaning:
Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition that results from a bite or attack by a dog.Dangerous dog has the meaning ascribed in section 822.041 of the Health and Safety Code, as amended from time to time.Hearing officer shall mean the director or any person he may designate to conduct a hearing under this article, provided such person shall not have participated in any investigation of the facts regarding the alleged dangerous dog or be in the chain of command of any such person.Owner has the meaning ascribed in section 822.041 of the Health and Safety Code, as amended from time to time.
Secure enclosure means a fenced area or structure that is:
(1) At least 6 feet in height;
(3) Capable of preventing the entry of the general public, including children;
(4) Capable of preventing the escape or release of a dangerous dog; and
(5) Clearly marked as containing a dangerous dog.
Serious bodily injury has the meaning ascribed in section 822.001 of the Health and Safety Code, as amended from time to time.
Unprovoked means action by a dog that is not:
(1) In response to being tormented, abused, or assaulted by any person;
(2) In response to pain or injury; or
(3) In protection of itself or its food, kennel, or nursing offspring.
(Ord. No. 86-795, § 1, 6-3-86; Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-152. - Impoundment order; surrender.
(a) Upon receipt of a sworn, written complaint by any person, in a form approved by the director, that any dog situated within the city may constitute a dangerous dog, the director shall cause an investigation to be conducted. If upon investigation, the director reasonably believes that grounds exist to declare the dog a dangerous dog, he shall issue a written order, which includes the grounds for the order, that the dog be impounded at the city's animal impoundment facilities at the licensee's or owner's expense pending a hearing to determine whether the dog is dangerous as defined in this article.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to surrender to any city officer or employee who has presented a true copy of such order to the person any dog for which an impoundment order has been issued.
(Ord. No. 86-795, § 1, 6-3-86; Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-153. - Determination hearing.
(a) The director shall cause written notice to be given to the licensee or owner that a hearing will be conducted to determine whether the animal is a dangerous dog. Such notice shall include the following:
(1) The place where the hearing will be conducted.
(2) The date and time of the hearing, which shall be not later than the tenth day after the impoundment of the animal; provided that the hearing officer may continue the hearing upon the written request of the licensee or owner or upon the written certification of the attending physician of a person injured by the dog that the injured person is not medically able to attend the hearing, or in the event that it is necessary to give notice of the hearing by newspaper publication.
(3) That the licensee or owner may appear at the hearing and present evidence, cross examine witnesses and be represented by legal counsel.
(4) That the dog may be ordered euthanized if the hearing officer finds that it is a dangerous dog.
(5) That the licensee or owner may request a probable cause hearing pursuant to section 6-156 of this Code.
The notice may be given by personal delivery or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the licensee or owner. If the director is unable to effect delivery of notice by personal delivery or by mail, he shall cause the notice to be published one time in a newspaper of general circulation and to be posted in a conspicuous public place at the city's animal impoundment facility, each of which acts shall be done at least seven business days prior to the date of the hearing.
(b) The hearing shall be conducted by the hearing officer under rules consistent with the nature of the proceeding. The burden of proof shall be upon the city to establish, by a preponderance evidence presented at the hearing, that the dog is, a dangerous dog. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall enter a written order with factual findings as to whether the dog is a dangerous dog. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer may:
(1) Determine that a dog is not dangerous and, if the dog is impounded, waive any impoundment fees incurred and release the dog to its licensee or owner, provided that the dog may continue to be held, if required, for the duration of any rabies quarantine period as provided by this Code;
(2) Determine that a dog is dangerous and order the licensee or owner to comply with the requirements for ownership of a dangerous dog set forth in this article and Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended, and, if the dog is impounded, release the dog to its licensee or owner in accordance with subsection (d) of this section; or
(3) Determine that a dog has killed or caused serious bodily injury to a person and order the dog to be seized and humanely euthanized.
(c) If a dog is determined to be dangerous, the director shall notify the licensee or owner, either in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested:
(1) That the dog is dangerous;
(2) Whether the dog has been ordered to be humanely euthanized;
(3) If the dog has not been ordered to be humanely euthanized, what the licensee or owner must do to comply with requirements for ownership of a dangerous dog and to reclaim the dog, if impounded; and
(4) That the licensee or owner has a right to appeal a determination of dangerousness or an order to euthanize.
(d) An impounded dog determined by the hearing officer to be dangerous shall remain impounded or confined at a location approved by the director and will not be released to the licensee or owner until the licensee or owner pays all fees incurred for impoundment of the dog and complies with all requirements for ownership of a dangerous dog set forth in this article and Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended from time to time. If all impoundment fees have not been paid and all requirements have not been met within 30 days after a final determination that a dog is dangerous, the hearing officer may cause the dog to be humanely euthanized.
(Ord. No. 86-795, § 1, 6-3-86; Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-154. - Requirements for owner of a dangerous dog.
Not later than the 30th day after the date a licensee or owner learns that he is the owner of a dangerous dog that is not to be humanely euthanized, the licensee or owner shall:
(1) Comply at all times with the requirements set forth in Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code;
(2) Permit the department to implant a microchip in the dog which will identify it as a dangerous dog;
(3) Affix a red, city-issued "dangerous dog" tag to the dog's collar that must be worn by the dog at all times and renewed annually;
(4) Restrain the dangerous dog at all times on a leash, no longer than 6 feet in length, in the immediate control of a person at any time the dog is not in a secure enclosure;
(5) Confine the dog in a secure enclosure except as provided in the preceding item; and
(6) Obtain liability insurance coverage in an amount of at least $100,000.00 to cover damages resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog causing bodily injury to a person and provide proof of the required liability insurance coverage to the department.(Ord. No. 86-795, § 1, 6-3-86; Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-155. - Seizure and impoundment of a dangerous dog
(a) The director shall seize and impound or order seizure and impoundment, at the licensee's or owner's expense, of any dog previously determined to be dangerous if:
(1) The licensee or owner violates any provision of this article or Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended; or
(2) The dog causes bodily injury to any person.
(b) If a previously determined dangerous dog has been seized and impounded under this section, the hearing officer shall conduct a hearing to determine if the dog should be returned to the licensee or owner or humanely euthanized. The hearing must be conducted within eight business days after the date of seizure, and the hearing officer shall provide written notice of the hearing either in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the licensee or owner. In no event shall the hearing be conducted less than seven business days after the notice has been mailed or delivered to the licensee or owner.
(c) At the conclusion of a hearing required under this section, the hearing officer may order that the dog either be returned to the licensee or owner in accordance with subsection (d) of this section or be humanely euthanized.
(d) A dangerous dog seized and impounded under this section shall not be returned to the licensee or owner until the licensee or owner pays all fees incurred for impoundment of the dog and complies with all requirements for ownership of a dangerous dog set forth in this article and Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended. If all impoundment fees have not been paid and all requirements have not been met within ten business days after the hearing officer issues the order to return the dog to the licensee or owner, the hearing officer may cause the dog to be humanely euthanized.
(Ord. No. 86-795, § 1, 6-3-86; Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-156. - Probable cause hearing.
Any licensee or owner whose dog has been impounded may, at any time prior to the hearing scheduled pursuant to section 6-153 or section 6-155 of this Code, request an informal probable cause hearing by written request delivered to the office of the director. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing within 48 hours after receipt of the request, Saturdays, Sundays and city holidays excepted. The hearing shall be conducted informally, and the hearing officer may consider city investigative reports, medical records, and affidavits, as well as any testimony or documentary evidence offered by the licensee or owner. If the hearing officer finds that probable cause does not exist to detain the dog for a hearing under section 6-153 of this Code, he shall cause the impoundment order to be withdrawn. If the impoundment order is withdrawn, the animal shall be forthwith released, provided that it may continue to be held, if required, for the duration of any rabies quarantine period as provided by this Code.(Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-157. - Unlicensed dogs, rabies quarantine.
(a) The provisions of this article shall not be construed to require the issuance of an impoundment order or the conduct of a hearing for the impoundment or euthanasia of any dog that is found to be running at large in violation of city ordinances. In the event that any dog impounded for such cause is claimed for redemption, the director may, if he has grounds to believe that it is a dangerous dog, issue notice of a hearing pursuant to section 6-153 of this Code to the person claiming the dog and continue to hold the dog unless and until it is authorized to be released pursuant to section 6-153 or 6-155 of this Code.
(b) The provisions of this article shall not be construed to require the issuance of an impoundment order for the impoundment of any dog for rabies quarantine pursuant to applicable provisions of the Code or state law. In the event that a dog is already impounded in the city's facilities for such reason, and the director determines that it may be a dangerous dog, he may issue a notice of hearing under section 6-153 or 6-155 of this Code and continue to hold the dog unless and until it is authorized to be released pursuant to section 6-153 or 6-155 of this Code. (Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-158. - Appeal from a determination as a dangerous dog.
If the hearing officer determines a dog is a dangerous dog under section 6-153 of this Code, that decision is final unless the licensee or owner files a written appeal with the municipal court not later than the 15th day after the date the licensee or owner received notice that the dog is dangerous. The appeal hearing must be a trial de novo and is a civil proceeding for the purpose of affirming or reversing the director's determination of dangerousness. (Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-159. - Appeal from an order to euthanize.
If the hearing officer orders a dangerous dog to be humanely euthanized under section 6-153 or section 6-155 of this Code, that decision is final unless the licensee or owner files a written appeal with the municipal court within five business days after receiving notice of the order to euthanize. If an appeal is timely filed, the director shall suspend the order to euthanize pending final determination of the court. The appeal hearing must be a trial de novo and is a civil proceeding for the purpose of affirming or reversing the director's order to euthanize.(Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec. 6-160. - Dangerous dog owned or harbored by minor.
If the licensee or owner of a dangerous dog is a minor, the parent or guardian of the minor shall be liable for all injuries and property damage sustained by any person or domestic animal in an unprovoked attack by the dog.(Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec 6-161. - Violations; defenses.
(a) A person commits an offense if he violates, or fails to perform an act required by, a provision of this article or Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended. A person commits a separate offense each day or part of a day during which a violation is committed, permitted, or continued.
(b) An offense under this article is a Class C misdemeanor.
(c) Any defense to prosecution under Subchapter D, Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended, is a defense to prosecution under this article.
(d) Any defense to an order to euthanize under Section 822.003 (f) of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended, is a defense under this article. (Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Sec 6-162. - Dangerous dog database.
The department shall maintain a detailed database of all dogs deemed to be dangerous. The database shall include, but not be limited to, information such as the licensee's or owner's name, address, phone number, the dangerous dog case number, the assigned microchip number, and all identifying information regarding the dog.(Ord. No. 06-996, § 3, 10-4-06)
Family Bystander Mental Anguish Claims
Texas recognizes the right of bystanders to recover damages for mental anguish caused by witnessing an accident, with the following limitations: the bystander must be a parent or child of the victim and the victim must have been killed or severely injured in the animal attack or mauling. Therefore, if you have witnessed a close family member mauled or bitten by a dog, you may want to pursue legal action on behalf of the injury victim as well as your own claims for witnessing such a horrific event. Contact a Houston dog bite lawyer today to discuss bystander and mental anguish claims.
Negligence Based on Failure to Stop an Attack
A Texas dog owner owes a duty to attempt to stop his dog from attacking a person after the attack has begun. This is a civil duty, meaning that the Houston dog bite victim can sue for monetary damages if the dog owner does not attempt to stop the attack.
If you or a loved one have been bitten or mauled by a dangerous dog in Houston or Harris County, TX, please contact one of the experienced Houston dog bite injury lawyers listed on this page.
What Should You Do if You Have Been Bitten by a Dog?
- Make every attempt to keep the animal in sight, find its owner, and obtain the owner’s contact information, preferably verified by their photo ID.
- Immediately wash the wound out with soap and warm water.
- Make sure that you are up to date on your tetanus shots.
- Seek the help of a physician or visit a local hospital.
- Report the bite to the Houston Planning and Development Services Department (contact information below).
- Seek the help of a Houston dog bite attorney, if necessary, and maintain copies of all medical records and other relevant evidence.
For more information on dog bites and their victims, visit DogsBite.org
Dog Bite Reporting:
If you would like to report a Houston area or Harris County dog bite or ask other questions pertaining to veterinary public health, do not hesitate to contact the Houston Planning and Development Services Department office at:
A variety of animal training classes and services are offered by the Houston SPCA. The Houston SPCA may be reached at:
Contact one of the experienced Houston dog bite lawyers above for a consultation regarding your claim.
Personal Injury Attorneys Serve Houston and Surrounding Cities
Serving clients Southeastern Texas, including Aldine, Baytown, Bellaire, Beaumont, Channelview, Cloverleaf, Conroe, Deer Park, Friendswood, Galena Park, Galveston, Hedwig Village, Highlands, Hilshire Village, Humble, Jacinto City, Katy, League City, Magnolia, Mission Bend, Missouri City, Pasadena, Pearland, Porter, Sealy, South Houston, Spring Valley, Stafford, The Meadows, The Woodlands, Waller, West University, and other communities in Fort Bend County, Harris County, and Montgomery County.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, please contact one of the experienced Harris County dog bite lawyers listed on this page.