What happens if I harm a dog?

A person who kills a dog could be charged with one or more of these crimes:

  • Cruelty to Companion Animals (O.R.C. 959.131)
  • Injuring Animals (O.R.C. 959.02)
  • Poisoning Animals (O.R.C. 959.03)

However, the following are factors that would be considered in deciding whether a person should be charged with a crime or found guilty if charged with a crime:

  1. O.R.C. 955.28, states a dog can be killed if the dog is chasing or approaching a person in a menacing/attacking fashion, attempting to bite or endanger a person, or injuring or killing a person. The same is true if the dog chases, threatens, harasses, injures, or kills livestock, poultry, or another animal other than a dog or cat, that is on someone's property.
  2. Whether a person is charged with or convicted of a crime if a dog is killed when attacking another dog or a cat would depend on if the person acted maliciously or willfully, if the killing of the dog was needless, or if the person caused unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering to the dog. It is very important to remember that the determination of whether the killing of a dog is justified would be made on a case-by-case basis. Killing a dog may result in you having to defend your actions in court.
  3. O.R.C. 959.04 states that the crimes of Injuring Animals and Poisoning Animals do not apply to a person who kills or injures an animal to prevent the animal from trespassing upon another's "enclosure" or while driving an animal away from another's "premises." However, to avoid charges, within 15 days of the trespassing animal being injured or killed, payment must be made for the damages done to the animal - less the amount of damage to your property caused by the trespassing animal - or a sufficient sum of money is deposited with an appropriate court to cover such damages.

In addition to possible criminal charges, you could also be sued civilly by the owner for wounding or killing a registered dog (or a dog that is exempt from registration requirements).

Show All Answers

1. Who do I call when having a problem with a dog?
2. What can MCARC or the police do?
3. What can I do to help?
4. What happens if I harm a dog?
5. What are my responsibilities if I kill a dog?