SALT LAKE COUNTY

Utah legal analyst explains laws surrounding dog attacks

Nov 8, 2023, 9:17 PM | Updated: 11:00 pm

Hoover, a five-month-old pit bull. What laws exist to protect people from dog attacks?...

Hoover, a five-month-old pit bull. (Salt Lake County Animal Services)

(Salt Lake County Animal Services)

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — In Utah, there are several state and local laws that exist to keep people safe from potentially dangerous dog attacks. But this week a woman died after she was hospitalized with multiple serious injuries from a dog attack.

Sandra Miller, age 63, died Monday, about a week after police said her son’s two adult and five juvenile pit bulls attacked her. 

Miller is one of about 43 people who die from dog attacks in the United States each year.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, that’s among the about 4.5 million people in the U.S. bitten by dogs each year (most of them, children.)

Of those, over 800,000 must receive medical attention. What has Utah done to prevent these types of attacks?

What laws are there surrounding dogs?

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas said it’s a difficult issue, especially since dogs and other pets can bring so much joy to people.

“It’s hard to balance the love that we have, and the joy we get from our animals from the fact that they are animals, and they’re not necessarily at their best behavior all the time,” he said.

In this situation, the dogs may not have been legal.  According to the city of Taylorsville’s website, the city only allows up to two dogs per household, and only up to four animals in total. Additionally, pet owners must license dogs, cats, and ferrets annually.

Then there’s a state law, which Skordas said makes having “dogs-at-large” a misdemeanor. He said that happens to be a law that many people don’t take seriously. 

“It’s hard for municipalities to get a lot of a lot of energy toward prosecuting individuals who just happen to be negligent pet owners,” Skordas said. “A lot of jurisdictions still don’t put that as a high priority.”

Can someone be charged if their dog bites someone?

Despite that, he said people can receive a lot of money by filing a dog bite claim through homeowners insurance. 

As for Miller’s son, the owner of the dogs who attacked her, it’s unclear what will happen. Skordas said it’s possible to be charged with negligent homicide if a dog kills someone. But, in this case, it might not be necessary.

“Sometimes as a prosecutor, you have to take into account the fact that he has probably been punished about as severely as you could imagine,” Skordas said.

“He’s lost his mother. As a result of this, he lost all [seven] of his animals. And so you wonder what charging him criminally with a misdemeanor really does at that point, whether that’s sort of piling on.”

Related stories:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Salt Lake County

...

Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

3 days ago

A Salt Lake City Police car parked with its lights on during a shooting investigation near 1050 Wes...

Derrick Jones

Salt Lake City shooting leaves two injured, guns seized

Early Saturday morning, the Salt Lake City Police Department responded to a shooting at a home near 1050 West 300 South.

7 days ago

A screenshot of Ring doorbell footage captured on March 12 showed the moment right before a woman w...

Mariah Maynes

A white car hit a woman on March 12. Was it part of a hit-and-run spree?

Ring doorbell footage captured a hit-and-run on March 12. Could it be connected to a hit-and-run spree in which a suspect has already been charged?

11 days ago

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaks as he joins with Rape Recovery Center Executive ...

Emma Keddington

Salt Lake County observes Sexual Assault Awareness month

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness month here in Utah. Since January 2023, there have been 276 rape charges throughout the state.

12 days ago

Police believe a suspect in several intentional hit-and-runs' first attack was months ago. What too...

Eric Cabrera

Police explain why it took so long to arrest suspect in several intentional hit-and-runs

Police believe a suspect in several intentional hit-and-runs' first attack was months ago. What took them so long to charge him?

15 days ago

Myrtle Spurge is often touted as deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, but the plant is rapidly inva...

Eliza Pace

Salt Lake County Health warns of harmful myrtle spurge plant

Myrtle spurge was originally introduced to Utah as a decorative plant but is an invasive species that has spread to natural areas.

17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Utah legal analyst explains laws surrounding dog attacks