Ohio  |  Civil Litigation

Legal Question

Asked on: 7/31/08, 2:49 pm

Dog Attack

This morning, a rottweiler attacked and almost killed my 2-year old pomeranian on our property. He is covered in bruises and lacerations, including some nasty puncture wounds. We ended up having to pay about $300.00 in vet fees this morning to take care of him.

Is there any action I can take against the owner? Even if it's just to get the rottweiler off the streets and away from injuring any children or other pets?

3 Answers


Answered on: 7/31/08, 2:59 pm by Peter Ezanidis

Re: Dog Attack

Feel free to call our office for a free consultation. 614.223.1730


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Donnellon & Ezanidis, LLC 5 E. Long Street, Suite 1005 Columbus, OH 43215

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Answered on: 7/31/08, 3:50 pm by J. Norman Stark

Re: Dog Attack

Dear Pet Owner:

The law of Ohio is very clear: ***{35} R.C. 955.28 provides:

{36} "(B) The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, unless the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time was committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer, or was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any person, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner's, keeper's or harborer's property."

{37} R.C. 955.28 itself does not define the terms owner, keeper, or harborer. However, case law is enlightening. "`[A]n owner is the person to whom a dog belongs, while a keeper has physical control over the dog.'" Khamis v. Everson (1993), 88 Ohio App.3d 220, 226, quoting Flint v. Holbrook (1992), 80 Ohio App.3d 21, 25. See, also, Garrard v. McComas (1982), 5 Ohio App.3d 179, 182, (A keeper is one having physical control of a dog.). Likewise, "`a harborer is one who has possession and control of the premises where the dog lives, and silently acquiesces to the dog's presence.'" (Emphasis sic.) Khamis at 226, quoting Flint at 25.

{38} It is well-settled that an owner or keeper of a dog is not protected by R.C. 955.28 and cannot sue an owner or keeper to recover for injuries proximately caused by the dog. "[B]y enacting R.C. 955.28(B), the legislature intended to protect those people who are not in a position to control the dog. In contrast, *** the legislature did not intend to protect those persons (the owner, keeper or harborer of the dog) who have, by the terms of the statute, an absolute duty to control the animal." (Emphasis sic.) Khamis at 227. Accordingly, "`*** the clear meaning of R.C. 955.28 is that either an owner or a keeper of a dog [including a dog watcher] shall be liable for injuries proximately caused by that dog, including injuries sustained by that owner or keeper. To adopt [a contrary interpretation] would give the statute force beyond its plain terms *** and would result in a strained and unreasonable interpretation of the statute.'" Id. at 224-225, quoting Myers v. Lynn (July 19, 1985), 6th Dist. No. L-85-009, 1985 Ohio App. LEXIS 6966. See, also, Johnson v. Allonas (1996), 116 Ohio App.3d 549. ***

Contact an experienced Attorney ASAP. Good luck.

Sincerely, J. Norman Stark


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J. Norman Stark , Attorney, Architect 17000 St. Clair Aveue Cleveland, 44110-2535

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Answered on: 7/31/08, 3:50 pm by J. Norman Stark

Re: Dog Attack

Dear Pet Owner:

The law of Ohio is very clear: ***{35} R.C. 955.28 provides:

{36} "(B) The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, unless the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time was committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer, or was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any person, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner's, keeper's or harborer's property."

{37} R.C. 955.28 itself does not define the terms owner, keeper, or harborer. However, case law is enlightening. "`[A]n owner is the person to whom a dog belongs, while a keeper has physical control over the dog.'" Khamis v. Everson (1993), 88 Ohio App.3d 220, 226, quoting Flint v. Holbrook (1992), 80 Ohio App.3d 21, 25. See, also, Garrard v. McComas (1982), 5 Ohio App.3d 179, 182, (A keeper is one having physical control of a dog.). Likewise, "`a harborer is one who has possession and control of the premises where the dog lives, and silently acquiesces to the dog's presence.'" (Emphasis sic.) Khamis at 226, quoting Flint at 25.

{38} It is well-settled that an owner or keeper of a dog is not protected by R.C. 955.28 and cannot sue an owner or keeper to recover for injuries proximately caused by the dog. "[B]y enacting R.C. 955.28(B), the legislature intended to protect those people who are not in a position to control the dog. In contrast, *** the legislature did not intend to protect those persons (the owner, keeper or harborer of the dog) who have, by the terms of the statute, an absolute duty to control the animal." (Emphasis sic.) Khamis at 227. Accordingly, "`*** the clear meaning of R.C. 955.28 is that either an owner or a keeper of a dog [including a dog watcher] shall be liable for injuries proximately caused by that dog, including injuries sustained by that owner or keeper. To adopt [a contrary interpretation] would give the statute force beyond its plain terms *** and would result in a strained and unreasonable interpretation of the statute.'" Id. at 224-225, quoting Myers v. Lynn (July 19, 1985), 6th Dist. No. L-85-009, 1985 Ohio App. LEXIS 6966. See, also, Johnson v. Allonas (1996), 116 Ohio App.3d 549. ***

Contact an experienced Attorney ASAP. Good luck.

Sincerely, J. Norman Stark


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J. Norman Stark , Attorney, Architect 17000 St. Clair Aveue Cleveland, 44110-2535

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