What can you do when a dog is threatening your livestock?

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For most people, dogs are a very familiar part of the family. For farm families, dogs may even go beyond the family pet duties and help protect the assets of the farm - the livestock. However, when dogs get loose and go after the livestock of someone else, serious problems can arise. Any livestock that is killed or injured by someone else's dog is a monetary loss, as well as an emotional loss for some. A question we frequently receive is what can someone do if their livestock is threatened or attacked by someone else's dog. In these cases, livestock owners do have a course of action they may follow.

Under what circumstances can you kill a dog threatening your livestock?

Under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28, dogs committing certain acts against livestock, poultry, other domestic animals, and other animals that are the property of another person, may be killed at the time of the act.

These acts include:

1. Chasing

2. Threatening

3. Harassing

4. Injuring

5. Killing

If a dog belonging to someone else is in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, poultry or other animals, then you may kill the dog while it is in the act. If you are attempting to kill the dog while it is engaged in such an act, but you only wound the dog, you will not be liable for animal cruelty.

What if the dog has just committed the act and is running away?

If the dog is no longer in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, then you are not permitted to kill the dog. If you do, you may face animal cruelty charges. In State v. Cordle, the owner of domestic fowl was found guilty under Ohio Revised Code Section 959.02 of maliciously, or willfully, and without consent of the owner, killing a dog that was the property of another. In that case, the domestic fowl owner found his neighbor's dog killing one of his fowl. The dog ran back to the neighbor's property where the domestic fowl owner had followed it and proceeded to kill it while on the neighbor's property. If you do not catch the dog in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, even though you may not kill the dog, you still may be able to recover damages for your loss, as explained in the next section.

When can you recover damages for you injured or killed livestock?

If you believe your injured or killed livestock had a fair market value of $10 or more, under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.29 you may be eligible to receive compensation from the dog and kennel fund. In each Ohio county, a dog and kennel fund has been created from the registration fees of dogs and dog kennels each year. Part of the funds are used for reimbursing livestock owners when a dog belonging to someone else has killed or injured their livestock. If the owner of the injured or killed livestock believes the animal has a fair market value of $10 or more, then the owner must follow the process laid out below in order to be compensated through the dog and kennel fund.

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.29 explains the process for recovering compensation from the dog and kennel fund:

1. Notify a member of the board of county commissioners or dog warden within 3 days after the loss or injury has been discovered

2. If a commissioner has been notified, then the commissioner will notify the dog warden

3. The dog warden will investigate or have the loss or injury promptly investigated

4. The dog warden or the person investigating will provide the owner with a claim form where the owner will provide the kind, grade, quality, and fair market value of the animal, as estimated by the owner, the nature and amount of the loss or injury, the place where the loss or injury occurred, and any other facts that will be useful to the warden in fixing responsibility for the loss or injury.

5. If the warden finds all statements made by the owner on the claims form to be correct and agrees with the owner as to the fair market value of the animal, then the warden passes the information to the board of county commissioners who will then examine the information and make the final determination of the fair market value of the animal.

6. If the warden does not find all statements to be correct or does not agree with the owner as to the fair market value, then the owner may appeal to the board of county commissioners.

It's important to note that in order to recover from the dog and kennel fund, the owner of the injured or killed livestock must sign a statement indicating they did not own or harbor an unregistered dog on the date the loss or injury occurred.

Source: Ohio Beef Cattle Letter


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