Breed restrictions in WV are dependent on the city in which you live. They target what some believe to be inherently dangerous dogs. Laws may target pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers, for instance.
Local Breed Restrictions in WV
The cities of Barboursville and Bluefield have restrictions on pit bulls and wolf hybrids.
Per Section 3-32 of the Bluefield Code of Ordinances, a leash no longer than six feet and a muzzle is required when walking these breeds, and if kept outdoors, the dog must be kept in a locked kennel or pen with a covered roof. When kept indoors, owners must not leave any windows or doors open (screen barriers are not allowed), and "Beware of Dog" signs must be posted to inform others of the dog’s presence.
Section 505.09 of the Barboursville Codified Ordinances features the same restrictions on the breeds. Huntington requires that pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers be kept on a leash and wear a muzzle when they are being walked.
In Ceredo, ownership of pit bulls is banned within city limits per Section 505.16 of the Codified Ordinances of the Town of Ceredo. Meanwhile, in Wheeling, pit bull terriers are automatically considered to be "Vicious Dogs" per Section 508.02 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Wheeling.
A Look at West Virginia Dog Laws
In addition to breed restrictions in WV, West Virginia dog laws state that any owner who allows a dog to run at large – regardless of breed – will be held liable if it results in injury to a person.
Because the law is specific to a dog running at large, it raises the question as to what happens when someone is bitten in any other circumstance. For instance, let’s say you were walking through Lowndes Park in Clarksburg and were approached by someone who had a dog on the leash.
After asking permission to pet the dog, you are bitten. The owner potentially could be held liable. This may be the case if the dog previously bit someone, or you could argue the owner was negligent in granting permission to touch a dog that he or she knew was dangerous.
Depending on the circumstances, it could be a challenge to hold an owner liable, unless there is a clear violation of the law pertaining to a dog running at large or breed restrictions. In WV, the one-bite rule may not allow the owner to be held liable if you were the first victim.
In this case, you may attempt to prove the owner knew or should have known the dog was likely to bite or attack. Of course, once a dog has bitten, the one bite-rule classifies the dog as being dangerous.
If there are any incidents thereafter, it may be easier to hold the owner responsible for damages. This could include compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.
Seeking Help from a Dog Attack Attorney in Clarksburg
No matter the breed, when a dog is deemed dangerous and it attacks or bites someone, the owner could be held responsible. These types of cases sometimes can be a challenge with the limits on West Virginia dog laws.
Victims of a dog bite may seek legal counsel from a dog attack attorney at The Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg. We can evaluate your case to determine if there was a violation under the one-bite rule or breed restrictions in WV.