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What Does it Mean to “Harbor” a Vicious Dog? (State v. Pepper)

To “harbor” a vicious dog means to keep and care for a dog you know to be vicious (see definition of vicious animal). The following case story illustrates the meaning to “harbor” a vicious dog.

State v. Pepper Case

Four black dogs attacked and killed several goats.  The owner of the goats fired a shotgun and the dogs fled to the neighbor’s property.  Law enforcement was called to investigate and deputy approached the neighbor’s property.  The deputy saw several black dogs coming from behind the neighbor’s property.  The dogs barked and growled at the deputy and were acting aggressive toward the deputy.  The dog owner spoke to the deputy and argued that his dogs were not responsible for the death of the goats and claimed that his dogs never leave his property.  The deputy issued a citation to the dog owner for harboring a vicious dog.

At trial, the dog owner was found guilty for harboring a vicious dog under a city ordinance:

It shall be unlawful for any person to own, harbor, or have in his/her possession any dog or dogs which, when unprovoked act in a manner consistent with the definition of a vicious dog as defined in Section 5-6-1 of this Chapter. Such dog or dogs shall be prohibited and may be subject to impound and destruction pursuant to this Chapter.

The state put on evidence that (1) four black dogs were in the neighbor’s yard; (2) those same dogs chased the neighbor back toward her house; (3) the neighbor saw the dogs leave her property and go to and remain on the dog owner’s property; (4) the neighbor’s three pet goats were dead; (5) the goats had wounds to their necks and hind quarters; (6) the goats were chained up separately; (7) the goats had no previous incidents of aggression; (8)the neighbor had previously seen the dogs attacking another neighbor’s dog; (9) according to the deputy, the wounds on the goats were fresh; (10) the wounds looked like wounds inflicted by a dog; (11) the deputy saw approximately eight black dogs on the dog owner’s property; (12) the deputy determined them to be aggressive, in that they were growling and barking at him; (13) the deputy felt threatened by the dogs; and (14) the dogs were running loose on the dog owner’s property. The magistrate found that the State’s evidence established that the vicious attack on the goats was committed by the dogs the defendant was harboring on his property. The magistrate also found that the State’s evidence proved that the chained pet goats did not provoke the dogs and that the dogs acted aggressively.

Hire Dog Bite Attorney Brent Gordon to Handle Your Dog Bite Case

If you or your child has been attacked by a vicious dog and has a dog bite, call experienced and trusted personal injury attorney Brent Gordon to handle your case. At the law office of Brent Gordon we believe every client deserves fair representation. Our law firm offers a free consultation to discuss your case with you. We can usually tell you over the phone if you have a good case. Call our Idaho Falls law office at (208) 552-0467 or our Pocatello law office at (208) 232-7274 to get started.

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