Woman Alleges Vicious Beagle Slain by Noble Pit Bulls

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But not before it bit her, and that's why she's suing the beagle's owners for over $200,000.

First of all, I don't think this is one of those cases that involves the debate whether pit bulls are inherently vicious or have to be raised that way. It's probably enough to note that it involved, on one side, a single 10-year-old beagle, and on the other, four pit bulls that did in fact kill another dog. So let's start with that.

According to the Galveston Daily News (linked above), what happened is that "four pit bulls escaped from their yard … and slipped through a hole in [the] fence, attacking and killing the Bakers' 10-year-old dog." The dogs' owner did her best to break up the fight, the Bakers said, but couldn't control them. In the first report about two weeks ago, Steve Baker sounded like he had considered but rejected a lawsuit, partly because (as in almost all states), the law considers pets to be property and so damages are limited, but partly he just didn't sound vindictive. "It's not like I want to put any real pain on [her] for this," he said.

In the second report he just sounded incredulous, because this was just after the woman had sued them.

She alleges in the complaint that the Bakers—who, again, owned the beagle—are liable because their dog bit her. Her story is that the beagle came through the hole into her yard, and that the pit bulls then chased it out (and followed it). When she went over to get her dogs back, the beagle supposedly bit her, and then her dogs attacked it only in defense of their owner.

Let's assume for a second that’s really what happened.

The complaint alleges negligence and strict liability. The big problem with the negligence claim is that the complaint says nothing about who was responsible for the hole in the fence, or even whether the Bakers knew about it. The negligence allegations are all about failing to control the dog while she was on the Bakers' property. Unless the Bakers caused or at least knew about the hole, I don’t see how they’re at fault (even if their dog did go through it), and she doesn’t allege either of those things.

As for strict liability, in most states (and apparently in Texas) a person is liable for a dog bite regardless of negligence if the owner had reason to know the dog was dangerous, such as a previous bite. The complaint arguably does allege this, but doesn't cite any facts supporting the claim, so it's weak at best.

Okay, now let's stop assuming the facts in the complaint are true.

FenceWhat the plaintiff seems to be claiming is that a 10-year-old beagle went into a yard containing four pit bulls, those pit bulls chased it back and then stood quietly on watch until their owner arrived, whereupon the incredibly brave, vicious, and/or stupid beagle attacked their owner and they were, regrettably, forced to kill it to protect her. I guess that's not impossible, but I wouldn't be too keen on arguing it to a jury, assuming anyone on the jury knows anything about dogs. Also, the complaint's silence about the hole in the fence I think is pretty telling. Especially since, according to the Daily News, the pit bulls created the hole in the fence. Under Texas law, apparently, if the person bitten was trespassing, strict liability doesn't apply. Looks to me like that's what happened here.

Of course I am looking at it on the internet from 2000 miles away, but that's how it looks from here.



I enjoy your web site, and could not stop laughing over "Woman Alleges Vicious Beagle Slain by Noble Pit Bulls" but I do wonder about where you wrote it. Were you really in Canada, northwestern Venezuela, north central Colombia, or the Galapagos? There is nowhere in the USA that is 2000 miles from Galveston, Texas.


GalapagosI should know better than to say stuff like this on the internet. Now I've unwittingly revealed the location of my previously secret bunker in the Galapagos …. I mean, one of many extra-territorial bunkers, all but one of which remain secret, between which I move randomly to avoid drones and/or process servers. 

On the rare occasions when I do write from within the 2,000 mile exclusion zone, it's usually in San Francisco, which is more like 1,700 miles from Galveston. But I've already said too much.