This past Thursday, April 28, Rich County Justice Court Judge Ross McKinnon found a dog owner guilty of a class B misdemeanor in allowing a vicious animal to be at large. According to KSL News, the incident happened at a restaurant in Bear Lake, where a woman had her Great Pyrenees with her as she ate with her family in the outdoor eating area.
According to reports and a video camera that recorded the action, the dog “Lilly” first growled and nipped at a child that had come close to her. About 15 minutes later, the video surveillance shows the dog lashing out and biting a 2 year-old child that had come near her and shows the same dog dragging the child under the table.
For her part, the dog owner was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to pay a $680 fine. In addition, the dog owner has been asked to dispose of the dog. According to Judge McKinnon: “The dog needs to be put down, or the dog can be given to a ranch.” While the dog owner protests the sentence and disputes what happened — suggesting that the child stepped on her dog’s tail — the video very clearly shows the dog latch onto the helpless child and pull him under the table. According to Rich County Attorney Gary Heward, putting the dog down is a “public safety issue.”
Legally speaking, dog owners are required to not let their dogs run at large, especially those with “vicious propensities.” In this case, the dog was brought to a very public place – a restaurant – where she was allowed to come in contact with a small child. The local ordinance, sometimes referred to as a “leash law,” is designed to prevent against this very thing from happening, if dog owners would follow it.
The parents of this young child certainly have a claim against the dog owner for past and future medical bills, for psychological therapies he might need, for any scar revision procedures, and an amount for “general damages” for the trauma of having to go through this and the expected anxiety that this child will most likely have because of this event.