Indiana Dog Bite Liability Appellate Decision 2022

Damon Daniels v. Jeffrey Drake, et al.
Indiana Court of Appeals
September 9, 2022 (No. 22A-CT-00068)

“Indiana law has specifically addressed the question of liability for injury causedby domestic animals. In Pozanski v. Horvath, 788 N.E.2d 1255 (Ind. 2003), our Supreme Court rejected the notion that a first-time, unprovoked biting is sufficient by itself for a jury to infer that the dog’s owner knew, or should have known, of the dog’s dangerous or vicious tendencies. Id. at 1259. In so holding, the Court explained that owners may be liable for harm caused by their domestic pet “but only if the owner knows or has reason to know that the animal has dangerous propensities.” Id. Such knowledge, however, may be constructive rather than actual. Id. As is particularly relevant here, the Court explained as follows:

[T]he owner is bound to know the natural tendencies of the particular class of animals to which the dog belongs. If the propensities of the class to which the dog belongs are the kind which one might reasonably expect would cause injury, then the owner must use reasonable care to prevent injuries from occurring.

Thus, where there is no evidence of an owner’s actual knowledge that his or her dog has dangerous propensities, the owner may nonetheless be held liable provided there is evidence that the particular breed to which the dog belongs has dangerous propensities. And this is so even where the owner’s dog has never before attacked or bitten anyone. See, e.g., Holt v. Myers, 47 Ind.App. 118, 93 N.E. 1002, 1002-03 (1911) (observing that the ferocious nature of a bulldog was sufficient to provide the owner with constructive notice of the dog’s dangerous propensities).” – Indiana Supreme Court

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1905: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Ordinance, Lumberton, NC

1905 Lumberton Town Ordinances
Robeson County History Museum
The Robesonian

1905 Lumberton Town Ordinances

Certain types of dogs, such as bulldogs and bull terriers, were singled out for harsh enforcement.

“It shall be unlawful for any bull-dog … to be allowed loose on the streets and highways of the town of Lumberton and any owner so allowing shall, upon conviction, be fined $25.00,” reads the section on bulldogs, “and any policeman or constable of the town of Lumberton finding such dog… is hereby empowered and instructed to kill such dog.”  – The Robesonian

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1904: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Ordinance, Savannah, Georgia

May 28, 1904
The Savannah morning news

Mayor Myers Is Inclined to Favor Such a Law.

“If the Chamber of Commerce will send us a communication on the subject, Council will give the matter careful consideration,” said Mayor Myers yesterday, in speaking of the bulldog muzzle ordinance.

Mr. Myers said he was rather inclined to favor such an ordinance. He thought the dogs dangerous. Council would certainly be glad to take the matter up. he said, if it should be brought to its attention. – The Savannah morning news

July 11, 1904
The Savannah morning news

Adopted. Herman Myers, Chairman Committee of the Whole. The Committee on Police, to which was referred the petition of Sig Gardner, chairman Committee on Promotion of Public Interest, asking Council to enact an ordinance requiring all bulldogs to be muzzled, respectfully return Inviting attention to Section 1272 of MacDonald’s code. The Mayor will no doubt instruct the police to see that said ordinance be enforced. – The Savannah morning news

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1917: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Tax, Lumberton, NC

Brief Items of Local News
August 13, 1917
The Robesonian

Brief Items of Local News
At a recent meeting the town fathers changed the bulldog tax from $25 to $3. However, a fine of $25 will be imposed on the owner of a bulldog if he lets the dog run loose in town. Sanitary Officer F. A. Wishart says that the owners of every dog in town which the tax has not been paid by next Monday morning will be indicted. Pay your dog tax now. – The Robesonian

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1980: First Modern Pit Bull Ordinance, Hollywood, Florida

A jurisdiction in southern Florida, the City of Hollywood, passed the first known modern pit bull ordinance in the United States after a series of attacks, most notably the horrific mauling of 7-year old Frankie Scarbrough. The Everglades Pit Bull Club vowed to fight the Hollywood ordinance. Representing the group was attorney David Cerf, who first used the “discrimination” buzzwords in the media. South Florida had been seeing these grisly attacks since 1945, when Doretta Zinke was mauled to death by a pack of fighting dogs.

Pit bull owners fight new law – Lakeland Ledger
January 24, 1980

Miami (AP) – South Florida pit bull terrier owners say they’ll fight proposed regulation of the pets, even though the breed has been involved in two savage attacks recently. After a three-hour meeting, 40 members of the Everglades Pit Bull Club voted unanimously Tuesday night to file a lawsuit against the City of Hollywood, Fla., if it adopts the final version of an ordinance requiring pit bull owners to register their dogs. The ordinance also would make owners show evidence of liability insurance. – Lakeland Ledger

The Bacon Raton News reported the same day that a 14-year old girl was attacked by a pit bull (in the City of Everglades) as South Florida pit bull owners staged a rally against the new Hollywood ordinance. The Hollywood ordinance was overturned by a judge in 1982 — it was early and not well written breed-specific legislation. By 1989, a number of other jurisdictions in South Florida had adopted pit bull laws, including Miami-Dade County, which adopted a ban. The Miami-Dade County pit bull ban was upheld as a ballot item by voters in 2012.

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1900: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Muzzle Ordinance, Butte, MT

Dogs Days at An End
May 1, 1900
Daily Inter Mountain
Butte, Montana
Library of Congress

Dogs Days at An End – Canine Catcher Commences Business – Butte To-Day

Under the new dog ordinance, which goes into effect today, the dog catcher will begin business today instead of June 1. The canines of the city will be particularly interested in the following sections of the new law:

“Section 4. It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any bulldog to permit the same to run at large without being securely muzzled, so as to prevent said animal from biting. Any person violating this section shall upon conviction, be subjected to a fine of not less that $5 nor more that 425. – Daily Inter Mountain

early breed-specific ordinance

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1907: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Muzzle Ordinance, Gastonia, NC

June 28, 1907
Gastonia (Gaston County) North Carolina
Yorkville Enquirer
Library of Congress

Gaston, NC – Gastonia Gazette, June 25 … An ordinance passed by the city council last week places a penalty of $50 on the owner of a bulldog who gives the animal the freedom of the streets without having first properly muzzled him — the dog. – Yorkville Enquirer

early breed-specific ordinance

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1906: ‘Pit’ Bulldog Muzzle Ordinance, Danville, VA

Down on Bulldogs
February 15, 1906
Daneville, Virginia
The Times Dispatch
Library of Congress

Down on Bulldogs (Special to The Times-Dispatch)

DANVILLE, VA., February 14 – Dogs was the chief topic of discussion at a lengthy meeting of Common Council of Danville last night. A comprehensive dog ordinance was adopted, which provides for the placing of muzzles on all bulldogs or canines with bulldog blood, that run at large on the streets. The ordinance further provides for a pound, in which to place all dogs that do not have on their necks tags showing that the taxes have been paid. The ordinance, adopted by the Board of Aldermen to place a $25 tax on bulldogs, curs or mongrels was defeated by the Common Council. – The Times Dispatch

Early Breed-Specific Laws

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