July 11, 2019

Michigan Leash and Dog Bite Laws

Whether you’re a dog owner in Michigan, you’ve been attacked by a dog, or if you live in Michigan and want to familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing the law and when you might need to turn to a skilled dog bite lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is important. It’s never too early to educate yourself on matters of everyday justice.

Michigan: a strict liability state

In Michigan, there is very little leniency in the law when it comes to dog bites. Some states grant dogs and their owners some “grace.” In these states, if the owner does not know of the dog’s capacity to be vicious, they are not responsible for the first or second bite. However, this is not the case in Michigan, which makes hiring a top personal injury lawyer from our law firm even more beneficial.

As long as the dog bite victim can prove that:

  • they were not trespassing on private property, or were acting lawfully in a public space,
  • they did not provoke the dog, and
  • they did legally gain entry onto private property for the purpose of an illegal act (i.e., a mail deliverer protected by law who abuses his or her power and attempts robbery)

…then the dog owner is legally responsible for a dog bite. Here is a link to the particular law from 1939.

Provocation

This raises an important question: what does it mean to provoke a dog to a bite?

Simply put, if someone teases, prods, hurts, harms, or in another way purposefully “suffers a bite” from a dog, then the owner is no longer responsible for the bite.

Leash Laws

In Michigan, the law is, in general, fairly strict when it comes to dogs and their owners. Here’s the one-hundred-year-old law. It covers leashing, tagging, and licensing.

Act 339 of 1919, Section 287.262 states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to own any dog 6 months old or over, unless the dog is licensed as hereinafter provided, or to own any dog 6 months old or over that does not at all times wear a collar with a tag approved by the director of agriculture, attached as hereinafter provided, except when engaged in lawful hunting accompanied by its owner or custodian; or for any owner of any female dog to permit the female dog to go beyond the premises of such owner when she is in heat, unless the female dog is held properly in leash; or for any person except the owner or authorized agent, to remove any license tag from a dog; or for any owner to allow any dog, except working dogs such as leader dogs, guard dogs, farm dogs, hunting dogs, and other such dogs, when accompanied by their owner or his authorized agent, while actively engaged in activities for which such dogs are trained, to stray unless held properly in leash.”

In other words…

  • Female dogs in heat must always be kept on a leash when not on private property
  • All dogs must be on leashes when out in public unless there is a legally valid reason for them to be off leash
  • If the dog’s a working dog, leader dog, guard dog, farm dog, hunting dog, etc., then they might have a valid reason for being off leash

Insurance matters

As the owner of a dog, you are taking on a lot of responsibility and liability in the eyes of the law. Some sources suggest getting dog bites covered under your home insurance. It could protect you from legal action if the worst were to happen.

Pursuing justice

On the other hand, if you’ve been bitten by a dog and don’t know where to start, it might be a good time to hire a dog bite lawyer or a top personal injury lawyer. Cochran, Kroll, & Associates P.C. are available on a 24-hour, toll-free line: 1-866-MICH LAW (1-866-642-4529) for you to schedule a no obligation case evaluation. With offices in the Metro Detroit and Metro Flint areas, we make it easy for you to pursue justice, and best of all, our law firm never charges a fee unless a recovery is made.

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