Texas remains one of the American states where fatal dog attacks happen at disproportionately high rates. Previously, I provided expert commentary on the high rate of fatal dog attacks in Texas.
Another tragic fatal dog bite incident occurred about June 29, 2020, in Hunt County, Texas. The victim, in this case, was a two-year-old toddler. News reports indicated that a pit bull-type dog inflicted the bite injuries.
Circumstances surrounding this fatal dog bite
At the time of this post, the circumstances about the incident are sketchy. What is known is that the toddler most likely walked out of the enclosed yard of his home unknowingly to his caretakers. Apparently, his family members were home but did not have knowledge of the toddler leaving the yard. The toddler walked down a road proximate to a neighbor’ s yard, which enclosed the dog behind a 4-foot chain-link fence. The dog escaped the yard and severely attacked the toddler, who died shortly thereafter.
The circumstances of this fatal dog attack are not surprising and similar to the conditions found in many other deadly dog attacks. Namely, an unsupervised child encountering an unfamiliar pit bull-type dog near or on the dog’s home-turf.
Does this incident warrant criminal charges against the owner?
Whether this incident warrants criminal prosecution of the dog owner is questionable. Arguably the child was not adequately supervised, and the dog was in fact, in its enclosed area. However, whether this enclosed area was adequate to keep the dog confined is another question prosecutors must address. In addition, the behavioral history of the dog and the circumstances under which this incident took place must be considered. Negligence and whether the incident should have been foreseeable are the legal theories used in Texas to prosecute owners in instances of fatal dog attacks.