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Delta-Lawyer, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3546
Experience:  10 years practicing IP law and general litigation
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A dog was staying at a relative's home (sister - who

Customer Question

A dog was staying at a relative's home (sister - who actually was out of town and had a dog walker taking care of the dogs) because the owner was in the hospital. The dog bit someone while it was being walked by a third party. The dog was impounded 4 days later when the sister returned and called Animal Control because a door tag had been left on the owner's door to call and the dog walker had brought the tag to sister's house. A ticket was issued to the sister even though she was not there when the incident happened and has no ownership of the dog. Sister is fighting ticket for "Ownership of Dangerous Dog" given to her even though she does not own and was not there when it happened. This is taking months.
Question: If a dog is impounded, does the impounding agency have a responsibility to give notice to the owner? Agency says because owner (who was in the hospital and did not know of the impounding) did not request release of the animal within 10 days, the animal must remain impounded until the case is resolved with the sister. This doesn't seem right.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

I hope this message finds you well, present circumstance excluded. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of experience handling matters such as this one. It is a pleasure to assist you today.

This is an interesting area of the law because local ordinances frequently outpace the scope and breadth of state law. In the present case, state law requires that the Health Department must notify the owner if the animal that bit someone or another animal has been impounded and is believed to be a carrier of disease, like rabies. Colorado Statute 25-4-604.

However, C. R. S. A. § 30-15-104 runs a little contrary to the aforementioned statute. This Colorado statute immunizes the board of county commissioners or other local governing entity from liability associated with the impoundment of pet animals. Specifically, it states the board or anyone authorized to enforce a local ordinance shall not be held responsible for any accident or subsequent disease that may occur to the animal in connection with the administration of the resolution or ordinance.

The reason for the later statute is that because local ordinances can run contrary to state law, the state is trying to protect local officials.

What does this all mean for you guys? It means that if the dog was impounded under local ordinance, then it is likely that the agency is correct in that they do not have to find the actual owner of the dog as they have claimed. Moreover, if the dog is being checked for rabies, state law protects them in keeping the dog too.

I wish I had better news for you, but this looks like a situation in which they are relying on local ordinance to defend themselves. I suggest that you ask them for the specific ordinance for which they are relying to defend their position. If they cannot produce it and there is no infectious disease hold on the animal through the Department of Health, you can likely get an injunction from a local court which demands the release of the animal.

Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Please also rate my answer positively as well (three or more stars).

Best wishes going forward!