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Chaining up a dog is not always allowed in Texas, despite risks

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2023 | Personal Injury

Your neighbors should be responsible for ensuring that their dogs do not injure your children when your children are playing outside or walking to or from school. Still, dog bites do occur, especially if a dog is running loose in the road.

You may wonder why your neighbors simply do not chain up their dog to keep them from wandering the neighborhood. This way, they cannot pose a danger to you or your children.

However, Texas not only has laws against chaining up dogs but also follows the one-bite rule regarding dog-bite liability. This could affect your legal options should you or your child be bitten by a dog.

Texas dog chaining laws

It was not always illegal to chain up your dog in Texas. However, this changed in 2022 with the enactment of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.

Under this law, dog owners cannot leave their dog alone and restrained via a chain, a weighted restraint, a restraint shorter than five times the length of the dog or 10 feet or a restraint that is attached to an improperly fitted collar or harness.

A violation of this law is a misdemeanor offense. However, what does this mean for civil liability?

Texas and the one-bite rule

Texas is one of a handful of states that still follows the one-bite rule when it comes to dog-bite liability.

Many other states in the United States have moved on from the one-bite rule to strict liability when it comes to dog bites. Strict liability means owners might be responsible for dog bites, even if their dog did not behave viciously in the past or they had no other reason to believe their dog would lash out and bite.

However, in Texas and other one-bite rule states, dog owners are not liable for dog bites unless they knew their dog had bitten someone in the past or knew their dog had previously shown signs of wanting to bite someone.

In Texas, dog bite lawsuits are based on negligence rather than strict liability. This means that the dog-bite victim must be able to prove, in part, that the dog owner had a duty to use reasonable care to stop their dog from biting someone and that they did not live up to this duty.

Dog owners in Texas are not always permitted to chain up their dog. Plus, they are not automatically liable for a subsequent dog bite, even if their dog was running loose, if they had no reason to know their dog had the propensity to bite someone.

Still, evidence that a dog was running loose might be useful if you were bitten and are pursuing a lawsuit. If you are bitten by an unchained dog, you will want to examine all other circumstances surrounding the bite to determine if pursuing a lawsuit is right for you.