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Ohio Dog Bite Laws

Being bitten by a dog can be a frightening experience. It can even subject you to a disease like rabies. Fortunately, dog bite victims may receive compensation for their injuries by filing a civil lawsuit. The liability of the dog's owner depends on the state law where the incident occurred.

Some states require dog owners to be on notice for a dog's predilection for danger and other states like In Ohio, a dog 's owner is strictly liable for every bite that the dog inflicts on another, including the first bite; the owner is liable without the plaintiff having to prove fault or negligence.

After a dog has bitten someone, or has otherwise attacked an individual, the dog must be registered as a "dangerous dog." Once a dog is classified as dangerous, specific restrictions apply.

Requirements for "Dangerous Dogs"

If you're in possession of a dog that's been determined to be a "dangerous dog," the following requirements must be met:

  • It must always be kept on a leash shorter than 6 feet (except when hunting);
  • It must be kept in a locked cage or locked yard;
  • It must be registered with the county auditor; and
  • It must always wear a tag that contains a dangerous dog designation.

Ohio Dog Bite Laws at a Glance

Although an attorney can best handle the interpretation of a statute, a plain language guide to the statutes can be a useful introduction to the law. The chart below provides a concise overview of Ohio dog bite laws.


Ohio Revised Statutes:

  • Section 955.28 (civil liability)
  • Section 955.11 (definitions)
  • Section 955.261 (removal of a dog that has bitten a person)
  • Section 955.99 (penalties)

Causes of Action and Defendants



Causes of Action

The dog bite lawsuit is based either on a theory of "negligence" (where the plaintiff must show that the dog owner didn't use reasonable care in preventing the dog bite and their inability to do so resulted in the plaintiff's injury) or "strict liability" where the defendant is liable based on the mere fact that their dog bit someone.

Possible Defendants

In many cases, the defendant is likely the dog owner. However, under Ohio law, any owner, harborer (a person who controls the dog's home), or keeper of a dog is liable for any injury caused by a dog if the following conditions apply:

  • The dog's behavior caused the injury;
  • The injured person wasn't committing or attempting to commit a crime;
  • The injured person wasn't trespassing; and
  • The injured person didn't provoke the dog by teasing, tormenting, or abusing it.

Possible Damages

Typical Damages

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Non-economic losses, including compensation for pain and suffering, scarring, or psychological damage.

Punitive Damages

For negligence only: If plaintiff can show that the owner acted with gross negligence.

Possible Defenses

The statute of limitations for receiving compensation is 2 years. It begins running from the date that the dog bit occurred.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Dog Bite Laws: Related Resources

Questions about Ohio Dog Bite Laws? Get Answers from an Attorney

If you've been bitten by a dog, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. Discover how Ohio's dog bite laws impact your situation by talking with an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney located near you.

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