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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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Question regarding a dangerous dog belonging to a neighbor

Customer Question

Question regarding a dangerous dog belonging to a neighbor in Virginia. This dog already bit 2 people (one with serious injuries) and the neighbor is keeping it!
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

Is there a specific question with which I could assist?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I have a question regarding dog bite law and dangerous dog ownership. Our next door neighbors, who we have been on excellent terms with for the past 2 years since we have moved into the neighborhood have a Rottweiler . The neighbors are of Indian descent and 3 families share the very big house. Two days ago, the wife of one of the Indian brothers calls me in a panic saying that the dog bit her niece who was visiting from abroad. She asked if she could bring the injured niece To my husband'sclinic ( he is a plastic surgeon). The niece arrived at the office hysterical. The dog has left her with a serious injury to her face that could not be taken care of under local anesthesia and my husband had to send her to the hospital. The girl had to undergo general anesthesia and 20 stiches, and will be scarred for life.,During the visit, the wife of one of the brothers confided in me that this is the SECOND dog bite and that the dog had not her ( the wife) hand before.
Now, the worst part: the neighbors are keeping the dog!!! We have 2 little kids and we are afraid this dog could harm them. The neighbors have no fence and while they can keep the dog confined within the house, they cannot secure it 100% of the time! We are not sure how to proceed. We have an HOA and thought of bringing up the issue with them if the neighbors are irresponsible. Pls advise
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
We live in Virginia
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 4 months ago.

Bringing the issue up with the HOA is a very good way to proceed as is reporting the issue to the police.

Virginia has state laws and then each city may have its own ordinances as well.

The VA state statutes can be found at

The statutes make it clear that this dog will qualify as a "dangerous dog".

In addition to reporting the situation to the police and the HOA you can also file for an injunction through the court requiring them to keep the dog inside a fence, on a leash, or in the house at all times. You would need a lawyer for that because injunctions are very difficult.

The steps to an injunction are:

1) An Application for TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) is filed along with supporting evidence such as affidavits. Usually the Application for Injunction is made at the same time. The TRO is a temporary measure and is not absolutely required before you get an injunction.
2) An Ex Parte (without the other side present) Hearing is conducted and the judge either issues the TRO or denies it. If the TRO is issued the judge orders a bond set in a sufficient amount to compensate the other side for any damages accumulated while the TRO is in place if the applicant fails to prove their right to an injunction.
3) A hearing on the TRO is set.
4) The TRO and notice of Hearing is served on the defendant.
5) The defendant should immediately begin following the judge's orders.
6) The TRO hearing is held and each side has an opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses.
7) The judge makes the decision on whether to convert the TRO to a Temporary Injunction or not.
8) If the TRO is converted to a Temporary Injunction then the judge sets a new bond to be in place.
9) Discovery is conducted by both sides.
10) A request for hearing date is made on the matter of converting the Temporary Injunction into a Permanent Injunction.
11) The hearing/trial is held on the Permanent Injunction and the judge issues a ruling.

These are what are known as extraordinary remedies and the procedural rules for these as well as the case law are EXTREMELY specific and difficult. If ANY mistakes are made the judge has no choice but to deny the relief and will not likely reconsider it in the future.

Just as an example, getting injunctive relief, both temporary and permanent, requires that evidence be offered of:
1) An immediate need,
2) Which, if not granted, will result in irreparable harm,
3) With no adequate remedy at law, and
4) (on temporary order) The person requesting the injunction is likely to succeed at a full trial on the merits.

If evidence is not offered to meet these four requirements, in a manner that the judge knows this is what the evidence shows, then the petition will be denied.

There are more requirements than this depending on the exact facts of the case but it is very, very easy to mess up one of these and end up having to pay damages to the other side just because your paperwork wasn't done properly.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 4 months ago.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and no longer time out so you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of any follow ups.

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