The law in Minnesota regarding dog bites is favorable to dog bite victims. The law covers bites and other injuries, incorporates an expansive definition of “owner,” including someone who merely harbors or keeps the dog, and it is not subject to the comparative negligence defense. Related to the concept of dog bites, is that of animal cruelty, and you may be surprised about what the court has to say in reference to when you may (and may not) take action to protect yourself, your family, and your property from a trespassing animal. This is part one of a five-part series. In this five-part blog series, I will explore what is considered a “justifiable action” under the Minnesota animal cruelty statute.
At first blush, the difference between a justifiable and unjustifiable action may appear to be clear-cut. We hear many heinous stories of animal abuse and torture in the paper, on news programs, or social media. For example, no prudent defendant would argue that the actions were legally justifiable in a situation where a man broke into an ex-girlfriend’s home, stabbed her cat in the throat, and left the body for the former lover to discover after she returned home. These actions would clearly not be justified; however, in some cases the line between what is justifiable and what is unjustifiable is blurry.