Appeals Court: Dog Not Dangerous Til It Bites Someone

Apr 27, 2017

"Beware of the Dog" sign
Credit Mandee Sears / flickr.com

A dog in Michigan is not considered legally dangerous until it bites or attacks someone.  That’s the word from the state Court of Appeals.  


An Eaton County couple was charged with knowingly owning a dangerous animal after their dog got through a fence and attacked a lawn care worker employed by a neighbor.  The dog was shot to death by a police officer who said he felt threatened.  

There was evidence presented at trial that some neighbors were nervous about the dog, and that it could sometimes behave aggressively, such as attacking a lawnmower and biting the tires.  

The lower court allowed the case to go to trial, but the appeals court dismissed it.  The said Michigan law plainly states an animal has to have bitten a person before it’s considered dangerous. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org