Each year, 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bites, approximately 800,000 of which require medical attention. And more than half of dog bite victims are children.
How many of those attacks could have been prevented if parents knew where dangerous dogs in their area were kept?
Travis County, Texas keeps a list of all known dangerous dogs, which are dogs that have attacked in the past (see below for full definition) and are subject to county regulations. 19 of these dogs—30% of the total—are located within half a mile of a school.
The Villarreal & Begum Law Firm teamed up with data visualization firm 1Point21 Interactive to create an interactive map of declared dangerous dogs currently residing in Austin and all of Travis County. The map also highlights their proximity to schools so families can be more aware of potential danger on their children’s walk to and from school.
Description of Map
This interactive map displays all of the dogs included on the Travis County Declared Dangerous Dogs list, as of January 6, 2020. All of the public schools in Travis County, Texas are also displayed. The map includes information about breed danger, proximity to schools, and dogs’ names. Both dangerous dogs and schools in Travis County are represented by points on the map.
Schools are shown as blue dots. Dogs residing within 0.5 miles of a school are represented by red dots, while dogs not located within 0.5 miles of a school are yellow dots. The radius of the red and yellow dots corresponds with the Dog Breed Danger Index. Hover over any dot to see additional details, such as dog name, dog breed, school name, grade level, and zip code. (Note: If you are viewing on mobile, we recommend rotating your device for best user experience.)
|Name of Dog||Sex||Breed||Breed Danger Index||Zip Code||Within 0.5 Miles of a School?|
|Holly||spayed female||Labrador/Pit Bull mix||5||78736||No|
|Missy||spayed female||Pit Bull mix||5||78660||No|
|Maia||female||Pit Bull mix||5||78660||No|
|Lacy||spayed female||Labrador Retriever Mix||2||78669||Yes|
|Lady Bug||spayed female||Pit Bull/Jack Russell mix||5||78617||No|
|Tug||male||Queensland Heeler mix||3||78704||No|
|Bumpy||neutered male||Bull Terrier||5||78759||No|
|Tank||neutered||German Wire-haired Pointer||1||78733||No|
|Nala||spayed female||Pit Bull mix||5||78749||No|
|Clementine||spayed female||Australian Cattle Dog||3||78759||No|
|Kilo||neutered male||Pit Bull mix||5||78724||No|
|Dozer||neutered male||Rhodesian Ridgeback||3||78749||Yes|
|Zues||neutered male||Great Dane||2||78727||No|
|Cleo||female||Labrador Retriever mix||2||78757||Yes|
|Little Girl||spayed female||Bull Terrier||5||78759||No|
|Ladybird||spayed female||Pit Bull mix||5||78745||No|
|Maya||spayed female||Pit Bull mix||5||78660||Yes|
|Lahlo||spayed female||Boxer mix||3||78739||No|
|Coronel||male||German Shepherd mix||4||78653||No|
|Ginger||spayed female||American Fox Terrier mix||2||78724||No|
|G||male||Pit Bull/Boxer mix||5||78758||Yes|
|Bella||spayed female||Pit Bull mix||5||78702||No|
|Lia||spayed female||Pit Bull/Jack Russell mix||5||78617||No|
|Jonah||female||Pit Bull mix||5||78721||No|
|Sunny||neutered male||Shepherd mix||4||78660||No|
|Chuy||spayed female||Boxer mix||3||78722||Yes|
|Lucy||spayed female||Boxer mix||3||78722||Yes|
|Sparkles||spayed female||Plott Hound mix||2||78669||Yes|
|Tyson||neutered male||German Shepherd||4||78726||No|
|Abbo||neutered male||Great Pyrenees mix||2||78722||No|
|Aries||spayed female||Cane Corso||4||78749||Yes|
|Shebba||female||Pit Bull mix||5||78744||Yes|
|Charlie||neutered male||Labrador Retriever mix||2||78739||Yes|
|Blue||male||Pit Bull mix||5||78721||No|
|Lincoln||male||Pit Bull Terrier||5||78754||No|
|Miles Davis||female||Golden Retriever||2||78746||No|
|Milo||neutered male||German Pointer||2||78733||No|
|Boomer||neutered||Pit Bull Mix||5||78660||No|
|Diva||intact female||Pit Bull||5||78653||No|
|Taz||neutered male||Boxer mix||3||78739||No|
|Negro||neutered male||Chihuahua mix||2||78617||No|
|Jack||neutered male||Labrador Retriever mix||2||78705||No|
|Keely||spayed female||Labrador Retriever mix||2||78702||Yes|
|Flint||neutered male||Blue Lacy mix||2||78669||No|
|Iko||neutered male||Catahoula mix||3||78732||No|
|Diego||neutered male||Great Pyrenees||2||78758||Yes|
Dangerous Dog Definition
According to Austin/Travis County Animal Services, a “dangerous dog” in Travis County is defined as a dog that:
(A) Makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury, and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own: or
(B) Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure which the dog was being kept and that reasonably certain to prevent the dogs from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to a person.
Requirements for Dangerous Dogs
In Travis County, a dog owner is required to do the following within 30 days of discovering their dog is dangerous:
- Register the dog annually with the local Animal Control Authority and pay a registration fee of $50.00.
- Keep the dog on a leash at all times and in the immediate control of a person, or in a secure enclosure.
- Obtain liability insurance coverage (or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000) to cover damages resulting from an attack that causes bodily injury to a person.
- Submit proof of the dog’s current rabies vaccination.
- Attach the issued dangerous dog tag to the dog’s collar or harness and keep it on at all times.
- Inform the local Animal Control Authority if the dangerous dog is sold or moved to a new address within 14 days of the sale or move of the dog. The new owner of the dog can register the dog by presenting the prior registration and paying a $25.00 fee to the Animal Control Authority.
- Inform the Animal Control Authority office of any attacks on people by the dangerous dog.
If an owner does not comply with all of these requirements, they must give the dog to the Animal Control Authority within 30 days of learning the dog is a dangerous dog.
What Happens if a Dangerous Dog Attacks Again?
If a declared dangerous dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person outside the dog’s enclosure and causes bodily injury to the other person, the dog’s owner commits an offense.
According to the Texas Penal Code, this type of offense is a Class C misdemeanor, unless the attack causes serious bodily injury or death, in which case it is a Class A misdemeanor. If a person is found guilty of an offense under this section, the court may order the dangerous dog destroyed by a person listed in Section 822.004 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
Someone who commits an offense under this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000, in addition to criminal prosecution.
Dog Breed Danger Index
Using data from several academic studies surrounding dog bites, our team created a danger index ordering dog breeds from most to least dangerous, as determined by the prevalence of bites, severity of damage, and overall aggression. We chose to include only studies that measured the actual prevalence of bites by breed, rather than speculative lists based only on perceived likelihood of attack.
Listed from Most Dangerous to Least Dangerous:
5: Pit Bulls (including mixes)*
4: German Shepards (including mixes), Rottweilers (including mixes), Bull Mastiffs/Presa Canario, Italian Mastiffs/Cane Corso
3: Akitas, Boxers, Huskies, Dobermans, Chow Chows, Wolf Hybrids, Australian Cattle Dogs/Blue Heelers/Queensland Heelers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Catahoulas, Shiba Inus
2: Great Danes, Retrievers, Australian Shepards, Saint Bernards, Plott Hounds, Chihuahuas**, Beagles, American Fox Terriers, Border Collies, Great Pyranees, German Pointers, Giant Schnauzers, Blue Lacys, other large/mid-size breeds
1: Dalmatians, Pointers, Pekingese, Spitz***, other small/tiny breeds
* “Pit Bull” includes American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
** Chihuahuas are placed in Level 2 because they are quite aggressive and likely to bite (despite their small size).
*** These are the breeds least likely to bite, according to the Ohio State study. None of the other studies listed them among high-bite breeds.
Controversy Surrounding Pit Bulls
Every year, about 14,025 Americans are hospitalized due to injuries from dog bites. In a 15-year period spanning 2005 to 2019, pit bulls contributed to 66% of dog bite fatalities. Because pit bulls were bred for dogfighting, they have a “hold and shake” bite style and do not let go, which makes their attacks far more likely to be deadly. This is why they are given their own category in the Dog Breed Danger Index.
However, there is a good amount of controversy surrounding pit bulls. Because the term pit bull encompasses several breed varieties, their advocates claim “pit bull” isn’t a breed or that they are impossible to identify. Many also claim, “It’s the owner, not the breed.” Both of these arguments ignore the obvious genetic factors that make them both identifiable and likely to kill when they bite.
From a legal perspective, the inherent danger of pit bulls combined with the attitude of their owners creates a public safety problem. While knowing the locations of declared dangerous dogs can help you and your family stay safe, this awareness alone is not always enough to prevent an attack.
If you have suffered bodily injury after being attacked by a dog in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, we invite you to contact our dog bite lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.