I would like to know if I have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the munincipality in which I live. We have dealt with a dangerous dog (deemed so by a judge) and have done everything they have asked (sent in pics, etc.) Animal control and town have down nothing to help us.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Suing a Municipality is difficult and very time consuming. Enforcing the Dangerous Dog statute is part and parcel to any good administration of town government but also a low priority for many communities that may be dealing with higher crime rates, short staff, and perhaps even a lack of basic resources. Perhaps a meeting with the municipalities code enforcement officer or attending a meeting armed with the statute could spark open discussions about a problem that really does affect potentially everyone in the town. I would suggest pursuing those avenues first. Be specific as to what section is being violated, is the dog not restrained or muzzled as may be ordered once a dog is labeled “dangerous” by statute, and then provide documentation in photos if you have them. The more open the discussion forum, the more likely the municipality itself will act.
Still, if not successful you may pursue legal action seeking an injunction, but the specifics and proof will still be necessary. It is not clear from your post what it is the Twon should be doing, but are not. A meeting with counsel to discuss what the actual goal of the litigation will be is vital. In the end you may have to sue, but it is rarely the best first course of action when dealing with a municipality, as governmental actions, and the failure to act, are given a wider latitude under the law than a private individual.