What Can You Do When a Dog is Threatening Your Livestock?

By:Caty Daniels, Attorney, OSUE Agricultural & Resource Law Program 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.

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