Every dog owner in North Carolina is responsible for any injury or damaged property the dog may cause while not constrained on the owner’s private property.
This is known as strict liability. The dog owner can be held responsible regardless of intent to cause harm or actual negligence. The victim can sue under a negligence claim if the dog bites, scratches, or causes other physical harm.
North Carolina makes a legal distinction between dog(s) and dangerous dog(s). According to state statute, a dangerous dog is one that:
- Has killed or severely injured a person without provocation; or
- Is owned, harbored, or trained for dog fighting; or
- Is determined a “potentially dangerous dog” by local animal control
Counties and cities in North Carolina may adopt specific animal ordinances to ensure the welfare of people and pets. Leash laws, for example, help reduce the risk of dog bites while also protecting dogs from accidental harm.
It’s up to every dog owner to know the laws of their community to ensure the safety of others. Here’s a list of dog-specific ordinances in the three locations of the DeMayo Law Offices.
The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have strict leash laws that apply to all animals except cats. Owners of a dog found at large (roaming free) are subject to fines: $50 for first violation; subsequent violations can reach $500, and the dog may be seized.
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residence may not keep more than three dogs or cats (in any combination) if the pets are more than four months old and regularly let outdoors. Permits are required for residents who wish to keep more than three dogs or cats.
“Dangerous dogs” (as defined by North Carolina State Statute) are subject to extra protective measures. For example, proper fencing and warning signage may be required.
Finally, all dogs within Mecklenburg county must be licensed annually; a rabies vaccination ID is also required and must be worn by the dog at all times.
Click here for a complete list of Mecklenburg’s code of ordinances.
In Union County, only half of the 14 municipalities have expanded the county’s animal ordinances to include a universal leash law. For example, Lake Park, Indian Trail, and Monroe have established leash laws; Mineral Springs, Unionville, and Fairway have not.
Despite variations in leashing, it is unlawful for a female dog to be at large during the “erotic stage of copulation” anywhere throughout Union County.
All dogs in Union county must be immunized with the rabies vaccine; the dog must wear a vaccination ID at all times.
“Dangerous dogs” (as defined by North Carolina State Statute) are subject to extra protective measures; this includes notifying animal control should the dog escape the owner’s property.
Dog waste must be disposed of by the owner immediately.
Violations of any provision adopted by Union County shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor and punishable by a fine up to $200 and/or up to 20 days in jail.
Owners of a “dangerous dog” that injure or damage property in excess of $100 are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by jail time and fines. Penalties may differ depending on what/who the dangerous dog attacks, injures, kills, or destroys and where the attack took place.
Click here for a complete list of Union County’s code of ordinances.
Hickory – Catawba County
Hickory and Catawba County have leash laws: when a dog is not contained on the owner’s property, the dog must be physically restrained by a leash, chain, or harness and held in the hand of the owner. Some service dogs and all police K-9s are exempt from this provision.
County violations for public nuisance may include: repeated barking which could disturb another person or the public; inadequate fencing or property restraints to contain a dog; or failing to confine a female dog when in heat.
Hickory and Catawba Counties have also established limitations for dogs at public events. It is unlawful for any animal to “enter the boundaries of any event.” The law is specific to public events on city property (street fairs, farmers’ markets, parades, etc.)
Click here for a complete list of Hickory’s code of ordinances.
Aggressive Representation for Dog Bite Victims
Dog bites are extremely common despite great effort to ensure people’s safety and the welfare of pets.
Most bite victims can recover compensation for their injuries. However, the circumstances of the event will impact how the claim is settled.
North Carolina, for example, follows contributory negligence rules: if the victim is somehow responsible for the bite or attack (trespassing or harming the dog), compensation will be reduced according to the victim’s percentage of fault.
Victims should seek medical treatment immediately—even minor dog bites can lead to serious infections. After contacting animal control, victims should get in touch with an experienced dog bite attorney.
Victims may be able to recover compensation for a number of economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Medical Bills
- Future Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Permanent Disability
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Permanent Scarring