You may have heard about a recent incident in Rocklin, California, in which a resident killed a dog with his legally possessed firearm. And while you may be thinking, “I’m sure this resident is going to be punished by law for this, as killing dogs is despicable and wrong,” you will definitely be surprised to hear that what this resident did was totally lawful.
The resident was riding his bike in Rocklin with his two dogs on leashes when another dog ran out of its property and attacked one of his dogs. After both dog owners’ futile attempts to separate the animals, the resident on the bike shot the aggressive dog with his legally possessed firearm.
The police concluded that by killing the dog, the bicyclist did not commit a crime. And before those of you who love dogs more than people start throwing rocks at us, let our Los Angeles dog bites attorney from Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg explain when it is legal to harm or kill someone else’s dog in California.
When is it legal to injure or kill dogs in California?
So when is it actually legal to injure or kill someone else’s dog and not face charges for it? First and foremost, let’s not forget that the law views dogs, cats, and other pets and animals as property.
While you may have heard of such criminal charges as animal cruelty or criminal property damage, both of which are crimes punishing for inflicting harm or killing dogs and other animals, there are exceptions to the general rule.
In certain situations, California residents have a legal right to kill a dog and not face criminal prosecution for it. Long story short, you may have a legal right to harm or kill someone else’s dog in the following four situations:
- Killing dogs to protect people;
- Killing dogs to protect property;
- Killing dogs based on past behavior; and
- Killing trespassing dogs.
Self-defense and killing dogs to protect people
While this topic is not for the faint of heart, many of you may be thinking, “I never thought California law was so cruel and barbaric.”
“But do not make any premature conclusions, as California actually makes it a crime to harm or kill animals “unnecessarily” or “without justification,” says our dog bites attorney Los Angeles.
One of the most common justifications is self-defense or defending another person from injury or death. However, in no way does it mean that you have the legal right to kill a dog just because it was barking at you or has attacked someone in the past.
In order for the self-defense justification to apply, you must have a reasonable belief that injuring or kill the dog is the only option to prevent an immediate threat of bodily injury. In many situations, you will also have to prove that had you not injured or killed someone else’s dog, your life or health would be in jeopardy.
Don’t be confused, speak to our dog bites attorney Los Angeles
“But do I have the legal right to injure or kill someone else’s dog when it is not in the act of attacking or biting a person?” you may be wondering. “That depends on a variety of factors,” says our experienced dog bites lawyer in Los Angeles. Previously, the court has held that:
- You may have the right to injure or kill a dog as long as it is in the act of chasing or attacking people, domestic animals or pets.
- You may not have the right to kill a dog even when it was trespassing and even when the lives of your children are in jeopardy (several decades ago, a New York court charged a man with animal cruelty after it killed a Labrador that ran onto his property, attacked his own dog, had previously bitten his daughter, and the man’s children were not far away from where the incident occurred).
As you can see, it is not that easy to determine when it is legal to injure or kill someone else’s dog and when it not. That’s why it is highly advised to consult with our Los Angeles dog bites attorney from Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to fight for your legal rights in California. Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers by calling at 310-997-0904.