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Dog Bites In Colorado - What You Need To Know

A Family-Friendly Breed Is Actually The Most Likely To Bite

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Some dog breeds have a reputation for being more aggressive than others; pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German shepherds are often the breeds that people think of when they envision a vicious dog. In Denver, the city has banned pet owners from keeping pit bull-type breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, believing them to be safety risks. Anyone who owns a pit bull as a pet can be charged with a misdemeanor.

But is the reputation these breeds have earned deserved? And are the steps that cities such as Denver have taken against them well-founded? According to the most recent data, possibly not.

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9NEWS and I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS looked at years' worth of dog bite data from across Colorado, and they found that dog bites and dog attacks are not limited to certain breeds. Any dog, when frightened or anxious, may lash out, including traditionally family-friendly breeds that are not often thought of as being a risk for bites.

The most striking example of this is the Labrador retriever (commonly called Labs). According to the data, Labs and Lab mixes are statistically the most likely to be involved in a dog bite incident in Colorado. Labs/Lab mixes not only topped the list, but also were involved in 70 percent more dog bite incidents than the breed in second place (German shepherd). They were also involved in nearly as many dog bite situations as German shepherds and pit bulls - combined. While the vast number of Labs is part of the reason that it tops the list, the other reason is just what we previously mentioned: Any improperly trained or cared for dog, no matter what breed, may bite.

Want to learn more about keeping children safe from dog bites? Check out our article "Dog Bites And Children - What To Know And How To Prevent." 

Legal Liability For Dog Bites In Colorado

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In Colorado, unlike some other states, there is no strict liability to dog owners if their dog attacks someone. Instead, dog attack victims must show that the dog has a "vicious propensity" to attack others. Behaviors that demonstrate this could include previous bites or a pattern of snarling and chasing after others.

If an owner is illegally keeping a pit bull or Rottweiler or if an owner has failed to take reasonable steps to protect others when he or she owns a dog with a vicious propensity, the victim may be able to obtain compensation for injuries suffered in a dog bite attack.

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