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Monday, October 19, 2015

Chicago's Dangerous Dog Ordinance Constitutional

Apologies for the three day blog hiatus. Today's case is about dangerous dog determinations, something we've wrote about in the past.  Zoller v. City of Chicago.

Many municipalities have adopted ordinances authorizing the municipality to make a determination as to whether a dog qualifies as a "dangerous dog." Typically, such a determination would require the owner to take certain protective measures or could result in the dog being euthanized depending on the severity of the dog's actions. In this case, plaintiff's 100 pound bullmastiff attacked a 39 pound Portugese water dog in a Chicago alley. After an investigation, the city held an administrative hearing and declared the bullmastiff a dangerous animal. The hearing officer ordered the owner to post a sign at her home alerting people of the presence of a dangerous animal, muzzle her dog while off property, and to take various other protective measures. She appealed the determination to the courts.
In reviewing the record of the administrative hearing, the court determined that the city's determination that the dog was a dangerous animal was supported by the evidence. The dog escaped from his dogsitter, raced down an alley, and grabbed the smaller dog in his jaws, inflicting several wounds. The court rejected the dog owner's argument that she should not have to establish that the attack was provoked to defend against the dangerous dog determination. It also rejected her argument that her dog was simply "playing" when he raced at the smaller dog.
Finally, the court rejected her argument that the city's dangerous dog ordinance is unconstitutional, finding the language of the ordinance clear and unambiguous. As a result, the court upheld the city's determination that the bullmastiff was a dangerous dog under the city's ordinance.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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