Louie's Law


What is the definition of a dangerous dog?


Dangerous Dog/Reckless Owner Laws

        What Are Dangerous Dog/Reckless Owner Laws?

“Dangerous dog laws” address the problems of:

  1.           dogs whose behavior poses a threat to public safety, and
  2.           the reckless dog owners whose actions often give rise to this behavior.

These laws may be passed on the state or local (municipal/county) level.

The ASPCA views breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws as the smart alternative to breed-specific legislation—also known as BSL—in which certain breeds of dog are highly regulated or even banned completely in the hope of reducing dog attacks.

The ASPCA believes that dangerous dog laws should target only those dogs who truly pose unjustified risks to people or other animals. They should also acknowledge that there are situations where aggressive behavior is justified, such as when a dog is protecting herself, her guardian, her puppies or her home, or where the dog has reason to fear a person or animal.

The best, most effective breed-neutral dangerous dog laws include the following elements:

  •           Spay/neuter programs
  •           License law enforcement
  •           At-large/leash laws
  •           Anti-tethering measures
  •           Anti-cruelty and animal fighting law enforcement
  •           Progressive/tiered levels of violations and enforcement of laws
  •           Responsible ownership programs & dog bite prevention training
  •           Owners held civilly/criminally liable
  •           Mandatory microchipping
  •           Prohibit known reckless owners from having dogs

        What Makes a Dog “Dangerous”?

The broad definition of a dangerous dog is one who inflicts unjustified, serious injury—or poses an imminent threat of unjustified, serious aggression—toward people or other animals. However, “dangerous” is defined differently by different jurisdictions. It is up to the court to decide whether a particular dog satisfies its jurisdiction’s definition.

Terms used to define other symptoms or levels of canine aggression include “potentially dangerous” and “vicious.” (These are discussed in more detail in “Do Breed-Neutral Dangerous Dog Laws Label Dogs for Life?”)

What Is the ASPCA’s Policy on Dangerous Dog/Reckless Owner Laws?

The ASPCA favors laws that hold dog guardians responsible for unjustified harm or damage done by their pets. People who breed dogs for their aggressiveness, or train dogs to be aggressive or to fight, should not only be civilly liable for damage done by their dogs, but also held liable under criminal provisions that prohibit such conduct.
Furthermore, laws should focus on the behavior of the dog and all of the surrounding circumstances, including factors that may justify the dog’s actions. Laws should ensure that common puppy behavior—such as jumping up, rough play and nipping—are not deemed evidence of “dangerousness.”
The ASPCA opposes discriminatory laws that define specific breeds of dogs as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous” without regard to the temperament or behavior of the individual dog. Dangerous dog laws should define dangerous dogs as those who, without justification, have either attacked a person or other animal, causing serious physical injury or death, or who exhibit behavior that creates a grave risk of such an attack, as determined by a certified applied behaviorist, board-certified veterinary behaviorist or other qualified expert.

        How Do These Laws Address Reckless Owners?

Well-written, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws recognize the role reckless owners play in a dog’s poor behavior. They hold guardians responsible for the proper supervision of their dogs and for any actions on their part that either create or encourage aggressive behavior—including knowingly allowing a dog to run at large. At the same time, laws that address dangerous dogs must be mindful of the rights of pet guardians.

        Why Are Breed-Neutral Dangerous Dog Laws Necessary?

Good, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws are necessary to keep communities safe. It is important, however, that such laws address the behavior of owner and dog and also uphold the constitutional rights—including the right to due process—of individuals and their pets.

In addition to the impact of breed-specific legislation on a personal level—the forced separation of responsible dog owners from well-behaved companion animals who happened to be classified as the “wrong breed”—BSL fails to acknowledge that any dog can bite, and that the breeds with “bad reputations” change over time. Individuals who want to possess aggressive dogs will always find a way to do so—ban or regulate one breed, and another will rise in popularity to take its place. Today, American pit bull terriers and similar-looking breeds are most often targeted, but not long ago, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German shepherds and even bloodhounds were particularly feared. Unlike breed-discriminatory legislation, however, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws will never fall behind the arc of a popularity trend because they address individual dogs and their owners.

        Are Breed-Neutral Dangerous Dog Laws Effective?

Yes, they are. While there is no evidence that breed-specific legislation is effective, there is significant evidence that well-enforced, breed-neutral laws are. Cities that have enacted BSL tend to discover that BSL does not result in a decrease in dog bites. BSL is also extremely costly to enforce, which stretches animal control resources thin, thereby reducing animal control’s ability to respond to other situations and help a greater number of animals.

        Do Breed-Neutral Dangerous Dog Laws Label Dogs for Life?

Good, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws permit dogs deemed to be dangerous—or who have otherwise obtained a “record” under these laws—to be declassified after a period of compliance.

In jurisdictions with such laws, incidents of aggression are generally ranked on a staggered scale according to severity. This allows dogs who have committed relatively minor infractions to have second and third chances to have their behavior and/or living circumstances corrected before authorities must take more serious measures to ensure public safety. The terminology used by such laws is often “potentially dangerous,” “dangerous” and “vicious.” Running at large with a pack of dogs may be included in the definition of a “potentially dangerous” dog (please see the Illinois law discussed below). The “vicious” classification should be assigned only where a dog has seriously injured or killed a human being. In such a case, euthanasia may be appropriate. (In New York State, in lieu of the vicious classification, dogs deemed “dangerous” may be euthanized if certain “aggravating factors” exist, such as serious injury or death to a human.)

Just like a human who has been convicted of a crime, a dog designated “potentially dangerous,” “dangerous” or “vicious” will have a record in the jurisdiction where the owner’s failure to act responsibly, or the canine aggression, occurred. After a predetermined length of time with no further incidents and a sustained record of compliance with any orders, the “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” designation should be removed.

        Has the ASPCA Been Involved in Creating Dangerous Dog/Reckless Owner Laws?

The ASPCA’s Government Relations department has a strong history of helping to create and promote comprehensive, breed-neutral dangerous dog laws.

As an example, here is a partial list of recent Illinois legislation that the ASPCA had a hand in drafting and/or passing:

  •           IL, 2006: House Resolution on Dangerous Dog Education                    This House Resolution encourages municipalities not to enact breed-specific laws, but rather to establish programs to educate residents and pass laws defining accountability for irresponsible dog owners. It encourages municipalities to address animal attacks by enforcing laws that encourage responsible and humane treatment of dogs and all other animals.
  •           IL, 2006: Penalties for Dog Attacks                    Spearheaded by the ASPCA, this law increased the penalties for owners who fail to properly restrain dogs who have been deemed dangerous or vicious. It also allows for the recovery of damages for injuries sustained immediately preceding or following an animal attack.
    What is high risk breeds?  While all dogs can bite there are a few dogs that carry a little more clout because of their size and past history of the breed and the percentage of those  that have been involved in serious injuries on people and other dogs and even involving death. High risk breeds are usually classified in the insurance field.  First let’s define and identify those specific breeds. I will start with Pit Bulls and Pit bull types.

    These include but not limited to-

    American Bully derived from the American Pit Bill
    American Bull Dog originally the English Bull Dog
    American Staffordshire terrier
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier also known as the German Pit bull
    Argentino Dogo
    Presa Canario
    Bull  Mastff
    Cane Corso
    Dogue de Bordeaux
    Old English Mastiff
    Neapolition Mastiff.
    Japanese Tosa
    Other high risk include, but not limited to are-

    Chow Chow
    Doberman Pincher
    German shepherd
    King Shepherd
    Rhodesian Ridge back
    Saint Bernard
    Siberian Husky
    Tia Ridgeback
    Wolf and wolf mixes

Of all these breeds there is one specific breed that has a bite different from no other. Their strength and there heritage of fighting and these are

American Bully derived from the American Pit Bill
American Bull Dog originally the English Bull Dog
American Staffordshire terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier also known as the German Pit bull
Argentino Dogo
Presa Canario
Bull  Mastff
Cane Corso
Dogue de Bordeaux
Old English Mastiff
Neapolition Mastiff

While everyone of these breeds are dangerous it is necessary for these dog to only be handled and owned by a certain  class of people and should never be a family pet with small children.  Most attacks and deaths are by the family dog. Take heed in the fact.

Animal Control Order difference Judicial Orders

There are several possible remedies for dangerous dogs, including an animal control proceeding or “dangerous dog hearing,” a court order such as an injunction or statutory remedy imposed by a court, and remedies which are civil in nature, such as claims against the dog owner for the payment of compensation, eviction from leased premises, etc. The focus of this section is on the difference between animal control orders and judicial orders.

Under a properly drafted dangerous dog ordinance or statute, the animal control department or an administrative hearing officer can often issue orders pertaining to the dog itself. For example, the bench officer at a dog court proceeding might be empowered to order the destruction of the dog.

The ordinance or statute usually gives the animal control department specific powers to enforce such an order. Those powers might include coming onto the property of the dog owner, seizing the dog and related items such as things used for dog fighting, and other authorizations. This often contrasts sharply with what a judge can do.

When a judge issues an order, and the order is not complied with, the remedy is a conviction of being in contempt of court. In other words, when a judge orders a dog destroyed or confined in a certain manner, a person’s failure to do as ordered is punished with jail or a fine. The court cannot send someone to pick up the dog unless there is a specific ordinance or statute empowering the judge to direct animal control or the police to the dog owner’s home for that purpose.

Because of the constitutional separation of powers — meaning the equality that every branch of government has with the other branches — a judge usually cannot order animal control to do anything, without being empowered by a specific statute. The judge operates under the judicial branch, and animal control is under the executive branch. These are equal branches of government that cannot order each other to do anything. However, the judge has full power to order the arrest and incarceration of a person who violates a law or is in contempt of court. That is because the penal statutes grant that power to judges, authorizing them to issue arrest warrants and to direct the sheriff to keep a person in jail for specific length of time.

Therefore, when animal control issues the order, the remedy can actually relate directly to the dog, meaning its confinement or even euthanasia. When a court issues orders to the dog owner, the remedy is to have the dog owner prosecuted and thrown in jail or fined or both. These are very different remedies, in that one is against the dog and the other is against the dog’s owner.

This can have important ramifications in dog bite cases. Most cases involve a friend, family member or relative. If animal control gets involved, the dog can be dealt with directly. However, if there is an inadequate dangerous dog ordinance or statute, and the court has to issue the order regarding the dog, it is possible that the reluctance to see a friend, family member or relative thrown in jail can result in the order being a useless act.

17 responses to “What is the definition of a dangerous dog?

  1. Hello, I want to subscribe for this website to get latest updates, thus where can i do
    it please assist.

  2. Great write up on dangerous dogs. I was viciously attacked as a small child by a Doberman and left with large scars to my forehead. The dog was never put down. Fast toward 16 years I was the leader of a South London gang. Where Pitbull dogs were used for intimidation. I know the world of dangerous dogs from both sides, victim and aggressor. Most of these dogs are owned by young kids out of fear or for intimidation. Most Pitbulls suffer with cruelty due to them being an illegal breed, once they are finally recused they are usually put to sleep.
    I have written a book on the dangerous dogs culture. ‘Status Dogs & Gangs’ book should answer the questions people would like to know about this out of control issue. Especially when told from an insider.

  3. mobile games says:

    You really make it seem really easy along with your presentation but I to
    find this topic to be really one thing which I
    feel I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very extensive for me.
    I’m having a look ahead in your next put up, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

    • You goti! It took a lot of thought and research to sum up the question. Some breeds are inherently just breed to be potential walking time bombs. That fault with the breeders. those who purchasesthe dogs purchase them for those reasons. They have been inter bred and cross bred to create a less quality of a dog. example a long time ago my ex husbamd decided to by a Rottweilers ( one of the breeds listed. when I asked did he see the parents his reply was the father was too vicious to see and one of the other pups had a deformed. Foot. I was not happy about his purchase, Later that month my husbands pup contracted parvo virus. It actually was exposed at the breeders. Although we were lucky the pup survived parvo and happen to be a nice dog she was spayed and 6 foot fence went up and beware of dog signs were posted every 15 foot from along fence and no children ever got around her including my own son. ,he was inexperienced in choosing a top experienced breeder and the knowing how to pick out a good natured dog. There is more to just picking a pup that wags his tail. They al do at that age. There is a battery of behavior tests if you know what you’re doing. He was not. Nor was the breeder a top knotch breeder given the father dogs aggressive behavior and one of the pups having a deformed foot. This story happens all the time different town different city. Breeders shoud be licensed and owners should have a. Permit and liability insurance for those dogs. And municipalities should enforce certain safety laws and enforce them. Next you hear of all the horrible stories of distruction and fatalities from dogs. Homeowner Ins. Companies have also done their research some will not insure or charge extra if you own certain breeds of dogs. The statistics don’t lie when it come to deciding the list of dangerous dogs.

    • This type of blog is informational pro and con. Keep to the subject. provide interesting information and the gossip type I try to avoid. Thanks for asking

    • This is a complex and heated topic. If people would just believe the potential of their animal, and keep people and other pets safe from the potential their would be no “topic” it would be extinct. But unfortunately anyone with common sense is a truly gifted person. So the topic will always be. Sadly enough to admit.

  4. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much about this, such as you
    wrote the ebook in it or something. I thhink that you just
    could do with slme percent to drive the message house a little bit, but othwr than that,
    that is great blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely bbe back.

    • Thank you so much for your support. This blog/website is the memorial to Louie that no one of authority seem to give a damn about. I am hoping someday someone of clout and government power will see this and assist in finding justice for Louie.
      “God rest your my little Louie you are missed and still loved and will always be remembered.”

  5. White Deer says:

    @justice4louie, they are to ONLY be used on Pit Bull types for the clear reasons stated. They are very unlikely to snap back at YOU or attack YOU. It’s for human safety, not because it wouldn’t work on another breed. Pit Bull breeds do not have a “death grip.” Yes, they are powerful and determined, but there is no anatomical “lock” of sorts. Any behaviorist or DVM or any other canine expert for that matter, will tell you this. And I’d be in shock if you could find more pet professionals who believe all Pit Bull types to be “dangerous” or “evil” than amazingly capable, loving dogs put into the hands of idiots. That’s mostly what baffles me, that people will take the word of completely unqualified nobodies with a bad experience over the word of people who put their lives into understanding dogs.

    And to the guardian of Louie, I am sorry for your loss. I’m sorry that you have to pay for the irresponsibility of a stranger in the worst way possible. I too lost my small dog a little over a year ago, to a careless driver. More proof that powerful things meant for the greater good can become death tools when not handled with integrity.

    • dear white dear,
      While you make a very good point with the car that hit your dog, I can give factual documentation of such info you challenge. I will bring up my files and present you with this info. love a good debate!:) This is a very emotional and heated topic. Namaste

  6. louie says:

    Break Stick Information Responsibility
    What Is a Break Stick?
    A break stick is a device inserted into the mouth of a pit bull (behind the molars) to facilitate the release of its grip on another dog.

    Remember: pit bulls do not have a special mechanism or enzyme that allows them to “lock” their jaw, nor do they possess a higher than average “bite pressure.” They simply have the determination of a terrier.

    Not all pit bulls are aggressive toward other dogs. But because the breed has a somewhat higher tendency for dog aggression, break sticks are useful tools to have in a multi-dog household. Please read the following guidelines before attempting to break up a fight using a break stick.

    Why Should Responsible Pit Bull Owners Have a Break Stick?
    Because canines are pack animals, fights are possible in any multi-dog household, no matter what breed of dog you own. A responsible owner should take measures to prevent such fights, but he or she should also be prepared for the worst. The goal of any owner should be to break up a fight quickly and efficiently. The majority of breeds will snap erratically at their opponent, biting and releasing repeatedly. As terriers, pit bulls will usually bite and hold. Contrary to popular myth, this is not some kind of special pit bull behavior; it is merely terrier behavior. As its name suggests, a break stick is designed to break this determined terrier hold. This is the safest, easiest, and most effective way to stop a fight.

    Do not attempt to use a break stick on other dog breeds.

    Attempting to use a break stick on other breeds could result in serious injury to the person using the stick. Since other breeds will unpredictably snap and bite instead of getting a grip, you are far more likely to be bitten. You also should not attempt to use a break stick with other terriers. While all terriers grab and hold, pit bulls are far less likely to redirect their bite on an intervening human than, say, a Jack Russell Terrier. For the same reason, you also need to be very careful when separating your pit bull from another breed. Your pit bull will probably not bite you, but you might get bitten by the other dog.

    Be Prepared
    There are many ways of managing a multi-dog household. Your primary goal should be to prevent fights before they begin. Many, many pit bulls—even pit bulls from fighting backgrounds—get along just fine with other dogs. Nevertheless, the breed’s tendency for dog aggression is slightly higher than the average dog, so constant vigilance is vital.
    If a fight does occur, you will be better prepared to break it up if you have already rehearsed the procedure before the need arises. Look into your dog’s mouth and find the gap where the teeth do not meet at the very back of the jaw. This is where you are going to insert the stick.

    Before Grip
    If the dogs don’t have a hold yet, you may be able to break the fight using other methods. Jerking the dogs back by their collars, a loud and firm break command, a bucket of cold water, a water hose, or placing a barrier such as a baby gate between the two dogs may be enough to stop them. Be safe: don’t put your hands anywhere near the mouth of the dogs.

    How to Break Up a Fight
    If one of the dogs has a grip, it’s time to use a break stick.

    It is best if there are two people to break up a fight, but you can do it by yourself if you have no choice. If both dogs are fighting and you are alone, you might need to tie one of the dogs to something solid. When one of the dogs is tied up, you must “break” the one that is not tied first, and pull him/her off right away.

    Walk over to the dogs, straddle one that has a hold, and then lock your legs around the dog’s hips just in front of the hindquarters. Make sure your legs are locked securely around the dog. Your break stick will be in one hand, so with your free hand, grab your dog firmly by his collar and pull upward slightly.

    Insert your breaking stick behind the molars where the gap is found. Sometimes you need to work the stick in just a bit if the gap is small. The stick should be inserted from ½ to 1½ inches into the dog’s mouth.

    Turn the stick as if you’re twisting the throttle of a motorcycle. This action will cause the dog to readjust its grip, and it will bite onto the stick, releasing the other dog. If both dogs have a hold, you will then have to break the second dog from the first.


    • READ THIS- This specifically states a bite stick is to be used on ONLY PIT BULLS! Why? Because these creatures are the only canine that has the “DEATH GRIP” of a bite. How can the pit lovers deny this? wake up America!

  7. louie says:


    This was AFTER the dog killed a pet chihuahua. Like I said, if they kill a pet they a capable of attacking a person!

    • Teresa says:

      Coralie Reinhart – I love your pics of the dogs! Do you ever go down to the Beagle rings? I am so missing our girl Binky, She is Al-Cor’s Sweet Song of Great Oaks, this is her first wnkeeed with a Handler, and AI am hoping the weather is good, the dogs are good and everyone has a good time. I just wish I were there too.

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