Many cities and counties place restrictions on ownership or automatically declare certain breeds ‘vicious’. While not always the case, classification of a certain breed as vicious might affect a dog bite claim.
Pit Bull Restrictions in West Virginia
The most common type of dog subject to bans and restrictions are pit bulls. Some people perceive pit bulls as being more dangerous than other breeds, whether that's fair or not, and this has led some localities in West Virginia to restrict ownership of the breed.
The following cities have some type of restriction on pit bulls:
- Fayetteville; and
Other Breed Restriction Laws
There are other breeds subject to local ordinances. For instance, Barboursville places restrictions on wolf hybrids as well as pit bulls. Owners must use a leash no longer than six feet and the dog must wear a muzzle when walking.
The dog must be in a locked kennel or pen with a covered roof when outdoors, and the owner may not leave doors or windows open when the dog is indoors. 'Beware of Dog' signs are necessary as well. Pit bulls are even a banned dog breed in Bluefield and Ceredo.
Huntington also has restrictions on wolf hybrids and the Rottweiler breed in addition to pit bulls. Wheeling automatically declares pit bulls, canary dogs, and American bull dogs vicious. Fayetteville also automatically declares pit bulls vicious.
Some cities may adopt breed restrictions of which dog owners aren't aware, or they may change them. It's important to check with local officials to learn about any bans or restrictions that may apply to where you live.
Liability for a Dog Bite/Attack in West Virginia
Whatever the breed of dog, it's important to understand how dog bite laws may apply. If someone suffers serious or fatal injuries from a dog bite or attack, owner liability may apply.
In West Virginia, the basis of liability is that the dog was running at large. So if the owner allowed the dog to run at large and it caused injury to someone, he/she could be liable. But if the dog was not running at large and the dog had previously bitten somebody, the owner may be liable as well.
Proving negligence is another way to hold the dog owner liable. This might be the case if a dog owner encourages a child to play rough with the dog, for example. Violation of local leash laws could also indicate liability. And in some cases, if the dog had been declared vicious based solely on its breed, it might affect liability as well. Discuss this possibility with your attorney.