Pit Bulls in Maine Dog Attack to Be Euthanized, Victim Mulling Civil Injury Lawsuit

A judge in Central Maine ordered two pit bull dogs euthanized after an August attack in Augusta resulted in the death of a much smaller dog and serious injuries to the deceased animal’s owner.

The owner of the two pit bulls, who also owns a dog grooming business, had advocated in the Capital Judicial Center to spare the dogs’ lives. During a two-day non-jury trial, the owner had been accused of two civil violations for keeping a dangerous dog. Title 7, Part 9, Chapter 727 of Maine Revised Statutes holds that a person who owns or keeps a dangerous dog commits a civil violation, for which the court must impose a fine of between $250 and $1,000 – none of which can be suspended. If someone is injured as a result of an attack by a dangerous dog, the court can order the identification and confinement of the dogs, as well as restitution paid by the dangerous dog’s owner. If a dog owner or keeper refuses or neglects to comply with a previous court order, and the dog wounds a person or domestic animal, the owner or keeper has to pay the injured person treble damages and costs that are recovered in a civil action.

Chapter 729 of the state’s revised statutes goes over injuries and damages caused by animals, holding in part that when an animal damages a person or property due to the negligence of the dog’s owner or keeper, the owner or keeper is liable in a civil action to the injured person for the amount of the damages caused, as long as the harm wasn’t occasioned by the fault of the injured person. The only time damages would not be owed to a person injured in a dog attack would be if the court finds the injured person’s fault exceeded that of the dog’s keeper or owner.

Although judges in these civil actions can impose restitution, that may not be enough to fully recover damages, which is why it may be beneficial to explore a personal injury lawsuit, particularly if the defendant has a homeowner insurance policy that would cover the dog.

In the case out of Augusta, the victim is reportedly still considering filing a dog bite lawsuit. The judge in the civil violation matter ordered both dogs euthanized and the owner to pay a $250 fine for each dog.

According to CentralMaine.com, the victim was injured and her 10-month-old Boston terrier killed by two pit bulls that attacked her as she walked her dog one Tuesday afternoon.

The dog’s owner called the incident a “fluke accident.” She explained to the court that the incident was triggered by an unleashed neighborhood dog who jumped on her backyard fence, prompting her dogs to escape. However, the dog that jumped on her fence is not the one who was killed in this incident. The dogs were reportedly inside her fenced yard when they escaped and went after the young terrier, whose owner was bitten and scratched while trying to protect her own dog. The 60-year-old reportedly suffered numerous injuries and had to be treated at a hospital. She said she still suffers from emotional trauma from the incident as well.

Animal control had reported those same two dogs were involved in a prior incident in May 2015 when the owners had to break up a fight with a neighbor’s dog. The defendants in that case were cited for keeping an unlicensed dog.

The judge, in ordering the dogs euthanized, ruled the defendant had first-hand knowledge that the dogs were dangerous but was still unable to contain them and prevent them from attacking this other dog and its owner.

If you are injured in Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Pit bulls involved in Winslow dog attack ordered to be euthanized, Nov. 30, 2016, By Betty Adams, CentralMaine.com

More Blog Entries:

Maine Hit-and-Run Victims Do Have Compensation Options, Dec. 1, 2016, Bangor Personal Injury Attorney Blog

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