SB 982 Modifies laws relating to dogs
Sponsor: Purgason
LR Number: 4611S.03C Fiscal Note: 4611-03
Committee: Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence
Last Action: 5/16/2008 - S Informal Calendar S Bills for Perfection--SBs 982, 834 & 819-Purgason, with SCS Journal Page:
Title: SCS SBs 982, 834 & 819 Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2008

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Current Bill Summary


SCS/SBs 982, 834, & 819 - This act modifies provisions pertaining to dogs.

SECTION 273.033

Under this act, a person has an absolute defense against civil liability or criminal prosecution for killing or injuring a dog, if such person's actions were based on the reasonable belief that he or she, or another person, was in imminent danger of being harmed by the dog. It is prima facie evidence that a person considered himself to be in "imminent danger" from a dog if the person had complained at least twice to the county sheriff or animal control authority that the dog had trespassed on his property, and on at least one of those occasions the person was in reasonable apprehension for his own safety, the safety of another person, or feared damage to livestock or property. County sheriffs and animal control authorities shall notify any dog owner about a trespassing complaint made against his or her dog. A court shall award all reasonable costs to the defendant in any such suit if evidence shows the defendant is entitled to the absolute defense as described.

SECTION 273.035

The owner or possessor of a dog that bites a person while the person is in a public or lawful private place shall be strictly liable for damages to the bitten individual. Owners or possessors of such dogs shall also be strictly liable for any damage incurred to property or livestock by their dogs. If a dog owner or possessor is found liable by a court for such damages, the owner or possessor shall also be assessed a civil fine up to $1,000. Liability for damages shall be reduced by the percentage of any fault the bitten or otherwise damaged individual is determined to have contributed to the incident.

SECTIONS 273.036 AND 273.038

When a dog that has previously bitten a person or domestic animal without provocation, subsequently bites a person or domestic animal again, the owner or possessor shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor. However, if the offense results in severe injury it shall be a class A misdemeanor and if the previous biting episode also resulted in severe injury, it shall be a class D felony. If the offense results in death it shall be a class C felony. Any such dog, or a dog that inflicts severe injury or death on the first biting occasion, shall be seized by the animal control authority or county sheriff who shall notify the dog's owner in writing. The dog shall be impounded for ten business days after notice has been provided to the owner, after which time the dog shall be destroyed. Appeal procedures are provided in the act.

The provisions of section 273.036 do not apply to dogs that bite a person while such person is engaged in criminal activity at the time of attack, except if the person is a child under age 12 who is trespassing. Dogs owned or utilized by a law enforcement agency who bite in the course of their employ are exempt from the provisions of sections 273.033 to 273.038, RSMo.

SECTION 578.025

This act increases the penalty for being a spectator at a dog fighting event from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony for a second or subsequent offense.

SECTION 578.026

Any authorized public health official or law enforcement officer may seek a warrant to allow him or her to enter private property to inspect, care for, or impound dogs that are the subject of a dogfighting violation.

Any law enforcement officer or public health official, who has probable cause to believe a violation of the dog fighting provisions has occurred and who has the authority to make a lawful seizure, shall take possession of the dogs and other property used in the violation.

A person performing a lawful seizure because of a dog fighting violation, whether acting under the authority of a warrant or not, shall be given a disposition hearing within 30 days of the filing of the request in order to grant immediate disposition of the impounded dog. The person seizing the dog shall place it in the care of a veterinarian, animal shelter, or animal control authority. If such people are not available, the dog shall not be impounded unless diseased or disabled. The dog shall be humanely killed if a veterinarian determines the dog is diseased or disabled beyond recovery. No person who lawfully seizes a dog shall be liable for necessary property damage.

Owners of an impounded dog may prevent disposition of the dog by posting bond in an amount sufficient to cover the dog's care for 30 days. The authority with custody may dispose of the dog at the end of such time unless there is a court order prohibiting it.

The owner of a dog humanely killed under this section shall not be entitled to recover damages for the value of the dog if it was found by a veterinarian to be diseased or disabled or if the owner failed to post bond for its care and disposition after being notified of the impoundment.

SECTION 578.028

The act makes it a class A misdemeanor to remove an electronic or radio-transmitting collar from a dog without permission for the purpose of hindering the dog's owner from finding the animal. Any person found guilty of this crime shall pay restitution in an amount equal to the actual value of any dog lost or killed as a result of the crime and such person may additionally be subject to restitution for lost breeding revenues.

SECTION 578.030

This act repeals provisions requiring dogs that are subject to a dog fighting violation be kept until a conviction or final discharge occurs with the case.

ERIKA JAQUES