Where Does Liability Fall for Stray Dogs?
Livingston Parish, LA - A lawsuit has been filed against the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office. The complaint alleges that local authorities failed to impound a loose pit bull, even though they had received several complaints involving the dog. According to local news reports, Brian Millet was attacked by an uncontrolled pit bull while delivering a package in December 2007.
Millet filed his lawsuit against Livingston Parish Sheriff’s office on grounds that the department did not take any action to safeguard the public from the pit bull. The lawsuit alleges that the Sheriff’s Office ignored multiple complaints involving the stray dog. Though Millet was not bitten by the dog, he claims that he suffered severe back injuries while attempting to defend himself.
Dog attack lawsuits are usually filed against the owner of the animal or against property owners where an animal with a known vicious propensity was kept. In other instances, victims have sued city agencies, such as animal control, for negligence. DogsBite.org keeps a list of such lawsuits here. Millet's lawsuit also names Jeremy Jacques, the believed owner of the dog.
The Advocate reports that the suit comes at a time when the Sheriff’s Office, the Parish Council and the parish president are grappling with issues involving stray and dangerous dogs. Sheriff Willie Graves said his office is limited by law in what it can do in complaints about these dogs, adding that deputies aren’t trained or equipped for that nor do they have a place for impound.
For more than a decade the Parish Council has discussed building an animal shelter. Though it has a nearly completed shelter sitting unused, officials said they have no means of funding it. A temporary kennel being operated by the parish’s Department of Public Works (with pens constructed to handle vicious dogs) was shut down due to complaints from animal-rights activists.
08/31/08: Dog Attack Victim Lawsuits and Settlement Awards