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What to Do if Your Neighbor Keeps an Unsafe Dog

Dangerous dogs can threaten more than just physical injuries. They can also be a significant source of anxiety and stress. When a neighbor’s dog is known to have vicious and aggressive tendencies it can make living nearby unpleasant and even hazardous. In some cases steps can be taken to address the presence of a dangerous animal in your neighborhood.

The goal is to prevent bites before they happen

When thinking about what to do about a threatening animal it’s important to remember that the goal is to improve the safety of people around the dog. Dogs may be extremely vocal and excitable when they are behind fences or tied up, but pose little risk to people or other animals in other contexts. But other dogs may be undisciplined or highly territorial. The legal rules around dog ownership try to strike a balance between acceptable dog behavior within the boundaries of a homeowner’s property and unacceptable risks to public health. In Las Vegas all dogs older than four months must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. Homeowners are allowed to keep their dogs off leash provided that they are confined to the dog owner’s property by a fence or other sufficiently tall and robust barrier. Absent specific rules, like an HOA’s bylaws, a dog that occasionally barks at passers-by from behind a sturdy fence probably doesn’t present a legally actionable problem

When are legal steps against a neighbor’s dog appropriate?

When a polite conversation isn’t enough to get a neighbor to address problems with a dog, there may be cause for threatening legal action in some situations. Some of the circumstances that might justify a legal response include:
  • The dog behaves aggressively and barks constantly from your neighbor’s yard while you are in your own yard, making your property unpleasant and potentially unsafe.
  • The dog routinely makes loud noises at unreasonable times, like late at night.
  • The dog has a history of behaving menacingly or biting on at least two occasions within an 18 month period, such that it qualifies as a “vicious” animal within the meaning of Chapter 7.16 of the Las Vegas Municipal Code.
Depending on the nature of the issue a homeowner could pursue several courses of action beyond speaking with the dog’s owner about the problem. Speaking with the local animal control agency may be a good first step. If the dog owner doesn’t take steps to fix a dangerous circumstance, a formal demand from an attorney may do the trick. At worst, such a demand creates an unambiguous record that the dog’s owner is on notice about the dog’s bad behavior. The next step might be to ask a court to order the dog’s owner to make changes to improve public safety or address a problem like excessive noise.

The GGRM Law Firm understands dog bite litigation

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have extensive experience with dog bite cases. We offer free attorney consultations to anyone with questions about how to handle a dog that poses a threat or has attacked someone. To schedule an appointment call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.