YUMA - In the wake of the pit bull attack on the horse in the Foothills, we wondered, what are the legal liabilities for pet owners?
It turns out, one legal line is very clear, but on either side of it are infinite shades of gray.
If an animal attacks another animal, owners are typically charged with violating Title 3 and cited with a misdemeanor. But, if an animal attacks a human being, Title 13 is used and pet owners could face criminal charges, and even do prison time.
We talked to Lt. Darren Simmons of the Yuma County Sheriff's Office. He says when people are the victims of dog attacks Title 13 is used for charging the owners. Many factors go into deciding which, if any, criminal charges will be filed against the owner. It a worst case scenario, Lt. Simmons says owners can be charged with manslaughter, but it depends on the circumstances of the attack. Has it happened before? What was the extent of the injuries to the victim? A judge makes the final determination on a case by case basis. It's in the best interests of all parties (including the dogs) to prevent such incidents from happening.
Lt. Simmons advises making sure all pet fencing is stable and secure, make sure dogs aren't digging out beneath fencing, and when dogs are outside of fenced areas, they must be on a leash.
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