Legal Question in Civil Litigation in South Dakota

Destoying Pet Dogs

I live in the county side of SD. I had 2 pet hunting dogs, both which were trained very well. I have one tied up at all times, other wise they will run the country side. My one has broken his collar twice now and took off. Once this summer, and the other time was this Feb. My neighbor, who just owns a house on a small plot, has shot and killed both of them. He had drug one of them out and placed it in the middle of the road for me to find. He is located app. 1/2 mile away from my house. This neighbor has no livestock, no chickens or any other animal for these two dogs to chase. They did not destroy any propety to my knowledge or his. They are not harmful, did not bite or bare teeth in any way. They were no threat to him, or any of his property. What can I legally do about this problem.

Asked on 2/18/01, 9:54 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Todd Epp Abourezk & Epp Law Offices

Re: Destoying Pet Dogs

You may have a colorable cause of action. According to the South Dakota Codified Laws, given the facts you presented, it does not appear the shootings were justified. However, if livestock, humans, or big game were being harrassed, then your neighbor may have been justified. I have included what I believe are applicable SDCLs at the end of this message.

You could spend a lot of money on attorneys fees for just the value of the dogs. It is hard to tell what a jury might do if it considered punitive damages.

Please contact me if you have further questions or contact the SD Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service at 800-952-2333 for other attorneys in your area.

Good luck.

Todd Epp, Esq.

Statutes are below:


Chapter 40-34.


Killing of dog lawful when disturbing domestic animals.40-34-1.

It shall be lawful for any person to kill any dog found chasing, worrying, injuring, or killing poultry or domestic animals except on the premises of the owners of said dog or dogs.


40-34-2. Liability of owner for damages by dog disturbing domestic animals - Property subject to execution - Violation as misdemeanor.

Any person owning, keeping, or harboring a dog that chases, worries, injures or kills any poultry or domestic animal is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and is liable for damages to the owner thereof for any injury caused by the dog to any such poultry or animal. All property except such as is absolutely exempt, is subject to execution issued upon a judgment for such damages and costs.


Source:40-34-12. Destruction by owner or tenant of dog harming big game.

A landowner or tenant may destroy any dog that pursues, injures or kills any big game animal on lands owned or controlled by that owner or tenant without incurring any liability.


40-34-13. Ownership of vicious dog as public nuisance.

Any person owning or keeping a vicious dog as defined in 40-34-13 to 40-34-15, inclusive, has committed a public nuisance and is subject to the provisions of 21-10-5 and 21-10-9.


40-34-14. *Definition - "Vicious dog."

For the purposes of 40-34-13 to 40-34-15, inclusive, a vicious dog is:

(1) Any dog which, when unprovoked, in a vicious or terrorizing manner approaches in apparent attitude of attack, or bites, inflicts injury, assaults or otherwise attacks a human being upon the streets, sidewalks or any public grounds or places; or

(2) Any dog which, on private property, when unprovoked, in a vicious or terrifying manner approaches in apparent attitude of attack, or bites, or inflicts injury, or otherwise attacks a mailman, meter reader, serviceman, journeyman, delivery man, or other employed person who is on private property by reason of permission of the owner or occupant of such property or who is on private property by reason of a course of dealing with the owner of such private property.


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Answered on 4/03/01, 12:16 pm

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