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By: Caty Daniels, Thursday, May 29th, 2014

For most people, dogs are a very familiar part of the family. For farm families, dogs may even go beyond the family pet duties and help protect the assets of the farm – the livestock. However, when dogs get loose and go after the livestock of someone else, serious problems can arise. Any livestock that is killed or injured by someone else’s dog is a monetary loss, as well as an emotional loss for some. A question we frequently receive is what can someone do if their livestock is threatened or attacked by someone else's dog. In these cases, livestock owners do have a course of action they may follow.

Under what circumstances can you kill a dog threatening your livestock?

Under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28, dogs committing certain acts against livestock, poultry, other domestic animals, and other animals that are the property of another person, may be killed at the time of the act. These acts include:

  1. Chasing
  2. Threatening
  3. Harassing
  4. Injuring
  5. Killing

If a dog belonging to someone else is in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, poultry or other animals, then you may kill the dog while it is in the act. If you are attempting to kill the dog while it is engaged in such an act, but you only wound the dog, you will not be liable for animal cruelty.

What if the dog has just committed the act and is running away?

If the dog is no longer in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, then you are not permitted to kill the dog. If you do, you may face animal cruelty charges. In State v. Cordle, the owner of domestic fowl was found guilty under Ohio Revised Code Section 959.02 of maliciously, or willfully, and without consent of the owner, killing a dog that was the property of another. In that case, the domestic fowl owner found his neighbor’s dog killing one of his fowl. The dog ran back to the neighbor’s property where the domestic fowl owner had followed it and proceeded to kill it while on the neighbor’s property. If you do not catch the dog in the act of chasing, threatening, harassing, injuring, or killing your livestock, even though you may not kill the dog, you still may be able to recover damages for your loss, as explained in the next section.

When can you recover damages for you injured or killed livestock?

If you believe your injured or killed livestock had a fair market value of $10 or more, under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.29 you may be eligible to receive compensation from the dog and kennel fund. In each Ohio county, a dog and kennel fund has been created from the registration fees of dogs and dog kennels each year. Part of the funds are used for reimbursing livestock owners when a dog belonging to someone else has killed or injured their livestock. If the owner of the injured or killed livestock believes the animal has a fair market value of $10 or more, then the owner must follow the process laid out below in order to be compensated through the dog and kennel fund.

Ohio Revised Code Section 955.29 explains the process for recovering compensation from the dog and kennel fund:

  1. Notify a member of the board of county commissioners or dog warden within 3 days after the loss or injury has been discovered
  2. If a commissioner has been notified, then the commissioner will notify the dog warden
  3. The dog warden will investigate or have the loss or injury promptly investigated
  4. The dog warden or the person investigating will provide the owner with a claim form where the owner will provide the kind, grade, quality, and fair market value of the animal, as estimated by the owner, the nature and amount of the loss or injury, the place where the loss or injury occurred, and any other facts that will be useful to the warden in fixing responsibility for the loss or injury.
  5. If the warden finds all statements made by the owner on the claims form to be correct and agrees with the owner as to the fair market value of the animal, then the warden passes the information to the board of county commissioners who will then examine the information and make the final determination of the fair market value of the animal.
  6. If the warden does not find all statements to be correct or does not agree with the owner as to the fair market value, then the owner may appeal to the board of county commissioners.

It’s important to note that in order to recover from the dog and kennel fund, the owner of the injured or killed livestock must sign a statement indicating they did not own or harbor an unregistered dog on the date the loss or injury occurred.

Posted In: Animals
Tags: dogs threatening livestock, O.R.C. 955.28
Comments: 0
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The Ohio House of Representatives gave final approval on May 21, 2014 to a bill initiated in the Senate that addresses invasive plants.  As approved by both chambers, Senate Bill 192 grants regulatory authority over invasive plants to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).  While ODA, Ohio EPA and Ohio's Division of Forestry already have programs in place to educate and assist in the identification and removal of invasive species, the new law clarifies that the director of ODA has "sole and exclusive authority to regulate invasive plant species in this state."  This authority includes the identification of invasive plant species and the establishment of prohibited activities regarding invasive plants.

The bill defines "invasive plant species" as:

"plant species that are not native to this state whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health as determined by scientific studies."

A committee amendment to the bill clarifies that the definition of invasive plant species does not include "cultivated plants grown as food or livestock feed in accordance with generally accepted agricultural practices, including all plants authorized by the animal and plant health inspection service in the USDA."   In committee hearings, the Ohio Invasive Plants Council expressed serious concerns about this exclusion for cultivated crops.  The group's concern is that ODA would not have authority to evaluate plants with invasive properties if they are grown for livestock feed.  Other groups have raised similar worries about plants with invasive characteristics grown for biofuel production.  The Ohio Farm Bureau submitted testimony supporting the exemption, stating that the federal government already regulates plants grown for agricultural crops.

The bill contains one exception to ODA's authority over invasive plant regulation.  The director of Ohio EPA may continue to consider invasive plant species when evaluating applications and permits for wetlands under Ohio's Water Pollution Control Act.   Once ODA develops invasive plant regulations, however,  the EPA must refer to ODA's list of invasive plant species when reviewing wetland applications and permits.

Read S.B. 192 here.

 

 

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

A new bill in the Ohio Senate addresses several legal issues for Ohio agritourism operators.  Senators Jones (R-Springboro) and Peterson (R-Sabina) introduced S.B. 334 on May 7.  The bill would impact Ohio agritourism operators in regards to civil liability, property taxation, zoning regulation and amusement ride standards.

Civil Liability Protection

Following a similar trend in other states, the Ohio legislation would grant agritourism operators civil liability protection from claims for injuries that occur during agritourism activities.   An operator would not be liable for harm that an observer or participant sustains during an agritourism activity if the harm is a result of the following conditions, which the law defines as "risks inherent in an agritourism activity":

(a) The surface and subsurface conditions of land;

(b) The behavior of wild or domestic animals;

(c) The ordinary dangers associated with structures or equipment ordinarily used in farming or ranching operations;

(d) The possibility of contracting illness resulting from physical contact with animals, animal feed, animal waste, or surfaces contaminated by animal waste;

(e) The possibility that a participant may act in a negligent manner, including by failing to follow instructions given by the agritourism provider or by failing to exercise reasonable caution while engaging in the agritourism activity that may contribute to injury to that participant or another participant.

The law does not extend civil liability immunity if an agritourism operator purposefully causes harm or if the provider's willful or wanton disregard for the safety of an observer or participant proximately causes harm to the person.

Real Property Taxation
 
The proposal aims to ensure that agritourism land can qualify for Ohio's Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) real roperty taxation program.  The CAUV differential tax assessment formula would apply to agritourism property in two situations:
 
(1) Tracts, lots, or parcels of land of ten acres or more devoted exclusively to agritourism during the three years prior to a CAUV application, if the land on which the agritourism is located is contiguous to or part of a parcel of land under common ownership that is otherwise devoted exclusively to agricultural use according to ORC 5713.30.
 
(2) Tracts, lots, or parcels of land less than ten acres that were devoted exclusively to agritourism and produced an average yearly gross income of at least $2,500 during the three years prior to the CAUV application, or where there is evidence of an anticipated gross income of such amount during the tax year in which the applicant applies for CAUV.
 
Zoning Authority
 
The bill also contends with the issue of whether agritourism activities are subject to local zoning regulations, a question we often receive at Ohio State.  According to the proposal, counties and townships would not have any authority to utilize zoning to prohibit the use of land for agritourism in any district, whether zoned for agricultural, industrial, residential, or commercial uses.
 
Amusement Ride Standards and Inspections
 
In response to emerging questions about permits and safety standards for activities such as zip lines on agritourism operations, the bill grants authority to the director of agriculture (ODA) to adopt rules to establish standards for amusement rides at agritourism locations that are consistent with standards adopted by the American Camp Association.  If the ODA adopts such rules, the bill states that other regulations pertaining to permits, inspections and duties would not apply to agritourism amusement rides.
 
Definition of Agritourism
 
An important component of the bill is its definition of "agritourism," but the bill raises as many questions as answers in its attempt to clarify the activities and operations that would be subject to the proposed legislation.  For purposes of the above provisions, the proposal defines "agritourism" as:
 
"An educational, entertainment, or recreational activity that takes place on a working farm or agricultural or horticultural operation and that allows or invites members of the general public to observe, participate in, or enjoy that activity.  "Agritourism" includes historic and cultural agriculture activities, self-pick farms or farmer's markets when they are conducted in conjunction with farm operations." 
 
The Senate referred S.B. 334 to the Civil Justice committee on May 14.   Learn more about the bill here