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Dog Bite Statutes Part II—Definition of “Dangerous”

Dogs and dog bites have long been a concern among insurance personnel. Underwriting has to determine whether or not to write a policy when a dog is in the house, and claims adjusters have to settle claims when a bite has occurred. Each state has statutes dealing with the issues of liability laws, definition of dangerous dog, and leash laws. As there is a volume of information, charts are provided for each section. Other topics can be found at Dog Bite Statutes Part I—Liability Laws and Dog Bite Statutes Part III—Leash Laws. The statutes are listed with each section.

 States have moved from statutes governing ownership of certain breeds to using behaviors to define a dog and dangerous, and making restrictions around those dogs, regardless of breed. Once a dog has been defined as dangerous the owner may be required to obtain particular limits of insurance, keep the dog in a fenced or other secure area, leash the dog while off premises and other requirements. 



Applicable Statute(s)

Definition of Vicious/Dangerous


Ala. Code § 3-1-3; 3-6-1; 11-47-110

Not defined.


AS § 03.55.010 – .070; 11 AAC 12.130

Any dog which when unprovoked has ever bitten/attacked a human.


A.R.S. §§ 11- 1001, 11-1012, 11-1025,11-1026, 11-1027

Animal of the order carnivora that has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or endanger humans without provocation; or animal so declared after a hearing before justice of the peace or a city magistrate.


A.C.A.§ 20-19-102; 20-19-310; 20-19-408

Not defined.


Cal. Civ. Code § 3342 Ann. Ca. Health & Safety Code 122331 Ann. Cal. Food & Agric. Code 31602, 30954

Potentially dangerous dog: Any dog that when unprovoked on two separate occasions within thirty-six months engages in any behavior requiring defensive action by a person to prevent bodily injury when both are off the property of the dog owner, or a dog when unprovoked bites a person causing a less severe injury, Or a dog which has twice within thirty-six months killed/injured a domestic animal off the property of the dog owner. Vicious dog is one that unprovoked seriously injures or kills a human or a dog previously listed as dangerous that continues same behavior.


C.R.S.A. § 13-21-124; 18-9-204.5; 25-4-610

Inflicts bodily or serious bodily injury or death of person or domestic animal; demonstrates tendencies that would cause reasonable person to believe the dog may inflict serious injury/death upon any person/animal; engages in or trained for animal fighting.


C.G.S.A. § 22-357; 22-364

Not defined.


16 Del.C. § 3048F, 3051F, 3053F, 3076F, 3077F. formerly cited as 9 Del. C. 908, 911, 913, 925, 926

Dangerous dog: Killed/seriously injured human or domestic animal if animal was under control of its owner or on owners property. Subject to or used in animal fighting. Potentially dangerous dog: Attacked/injured human or domestic animal under control of owner or on owners property; chased a person including one on a bicycle on any public or private property other than the dog owner’s or had two incidents within twelve months.

District of Columbia

DC ST § 1-303.41; 8-1901; 8-1902; 8-1906; 22-1311

Dangerous dog: Dog that has bitten/attacked a person/domestic animal without provocation, approaches a person/domestic animal without provocation in a menacing manner as if to attack, or has shown a propensity to attack without provocation.


FL ST § 767.04; 767.14

Dangerous dog: Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or inflicted severe injury on a human on public/private property; has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off owner’s property; been used primarily or in part for dog fighting; has, when unprovoked chased/approached a person on the streets, sidewalks, or other public places in a menacing fashion or attitude of attack; need one or more witnesses.


Ga. Code Ann., § 4-8-25 thru 4-8-30; 51-2-7

Vicious dog: Inflicts severe injury on human without provocation after the owner has notice that dog has previously bitten/attacked/endangered safety of a person; any dog owned/kept/trained for fighting; if person was willfully trespassing or tormenting or abusing the dog or committing a crime, the dog is not vicious.


HRS § 142-75; 143-14; 663-9; 663-9.1

Not defined.


I.C. § 18-5812B; 25-2801; 25-2805

At-risk dog: dog that without justified provocation bites a person without causing a serious injury. Dangerous dog: any dog that, without justified provocation, has inflicted serious injury on a person or has been previously found to be at risk and physically attacks a person without justified provocation.


510 ILCS5/2.05a; 5/2.17c; 5/2.19b; 5/14; 5/16

Potentially dangerous dog: Dog that is unsupervised and found running at large with three or more other dogs. Dangerous dog: Dog anywhere other than on property of owner/custodian and unmuzzled, unleashed, or unattended by owner/custodian that behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury/death to a person or companion animal; dog that without justification bites a person and does not cause serious physical injury. Vicious dog: Dog that without justification attacks a person and causes serious physical injury or death or any individual dog that has been found to be a dangerous dog upon three separate occasions.


IC 15-20-1-3

Not defined.


I.C.A. § 351.28; 351.40;351.41

Not defined.


KS ST § 47-645; 47-646; 21-6418

Not defined.


KRS § 258.095; 258.235; 258.255; 258.265; 258.990

Vicious dog: Any dog declared by a court to be a vicious dog.


LSA-C.C. Art. 2321; LSA-R.S. 3:2731; 3:2652; 3:2771

Not defined.


7 M.R.S.A. § 3901; 3907; 3948; 3952; 3961

Dangerous dog: Dog or wolf hybrid that bites an individual who is not trespassing on owner/keeper’s property at the time of the bite, or a dog that causes reasonable/prudent person to fear imminent injury by dog. Does not include dogs certified by the state for law enforcement use.


MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-619; Md. Code Ann., Local Gov’t § 13-105

Dangerous dog: Dog that without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person or if county/municipal unit has determined a dog to be dangerous because the dog has bitten a person while on public or private property, when not on its owner’s property has inflicted severe injury or killed a domestic animal, or has attacked without provocation.


M.G.L.A. 131 § 82; 140 § 155; 140 § 159; 140 § 167; 140 § 174B;

Not defined.


M.C.L.A. 91.1; 287.262; 287.321; 287.351;

Dangerous dog: Dog that bites or attacks a person, or bites/attacks and causes serious injury/death to another dog while the other dog is on the property of its owner. Dog is not dangerous if person was trespassing on the owner’s property, or person was provoking/tormenting dog, or dog was acting is a way that an ordinary and reasonable person would conclude was designed to protect a person.


M.S.A. § 347.14; 347.22; 347.50 thru 347.53

Dangerous dog: Any dog that has without provocation inflicted substantial bodily harm on a human on public or private property, killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property, or has been found to be potentially dangerous and after notice to the owner that the dog is potentially dangerous the dog aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals. Potentially dangerous dog: Dog that when unprovoked inflicts bites on a human or domestic animal on public or private property; when unprovoked chases or approaches person, including one on a bicycle, upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public/private property other than the dog owner’s property in an apparent attitude of attack; or has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, causing injury or otherwise threatening the safety of humans or domestic animals.


Miss. Code Ann. §21-19-9; 41-53-11

Not defined.


V.A.M.S. 79.400; 273.020; 273.030; 273.100

Not defined.


MCA 7-23-102; 27-1-715; 81-7-402

Not defined.


Neb.Rev.St. § 17-526; 54-601; 54-607; 54-608; 54-617; 54-618; 54-619; 54-624; NE LEGIS 1055 (2008)

Dangerous dog: Dog that has killed or inflicted injury on a human that requires medical treatment, has killed a domestic animal without provocation, has been previously determined to be a potentially dangerous dog by animal control authority and owner received notice of determination, and that inflicts injury on human not requiring treatment or injures a domestic animal or threatens safety of humans or domestic animals.

Dog is not dangerous if person was trespassing or committing other tort or was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or has been observed in the past to do so.


N.R.S. 202.500; 503.636; 575.020

Dangerous dog: Dog without provocation, on two separate occasions within eighteen months, has behaved menacingly to a degree that a reasonable person would defend himself against substantial bodily harm when the dog is off the premises of the owner or not confined in a pen, cage, or vehicle. Vicious dog: Dog that without provocation kills or inflicts substantial bodily harm upon a human or after the owner has been notified that dog is dangerous, dog continues dangerous behavior. Dog is not dangerous or vicious if acting defensively against a person committing a crime or provoking the dog.

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 466:19; 466.29; 466:31; 466.33

Vicious dog: Includes dog that snaps, growls at, runs after, or chases person not on the premises of the owner; chases bicycles, vehicles, motorcycles, or other vehicles pushed/pulled on the streets/highways/public ways; or when alone or with other dogs bites, attacks, or preys on game animals, domestic animals, fowl, or human beings.

New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 4:19-16; 4:19-22; 4:19-23; 40:48-1

Vicious dog: Killed or caused serious injury to a person or engaged in dog fighting. Not vicious if dog was provoked. Potentially dangerous dog: Dog caused bodily injury to a person during unprovoked attack and provides a serious threat of bodily injury or death, or severely injured/killed another domestic animal and poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person; poses a threat to another domestic animal; or has been trained, tormented, badgered, or encouraged to engage in unprovoked attacks upon people or domestic animals. Dog is not potentially dangerous if was provoked by a person or other domestic animal was the aggressor.

New Mexico

N.M.S.A. 1978, § 77-1A-5; 6; 2

Dangerous dog: Dog that caused a serious injury to a person or domestic animal. Potentially dangerous dog: Dog that may reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by the following behaviors: causing injury to a person or domestic animal that is less severe than a serious injury; chasing/menacing a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner without provocation or acting in a highly aggressive manner within a fenced in yard or enclosure and appearing able to jump out of said yard/enclosure.

New York

N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 108; 121; 122; 123 (McKinney) Envtl. Conserv. Law § 11-0923 (McKinney)

Dangerous dog: Dog without justification attacks a person, companion/farm/domestic animal and causes injury or death or behaves in a manner a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified threat of serious physical injury or death to one or more persons, companion/farm/domestic animals.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen Stat. Ann. § 67-4.1 thru 67-4.5; 67-12

Dangerous dog: Dog that without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person or is determined by person or board designated by county/municipal authority for animal control to be potentially dangerous because the dog has bitten a person that resulted in broken bones, disfiguring lacerations, or need for cosmetic surgery; killed or inflicted serious injury on an domestic animal when not on owner’s real property; approached a person not on real property in vicious/terrorizing manner. Any dog used for dog fighting or trained for dog fighting.

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