Is it Legal to Own a Pit Bull in Nevada?

Unlike many other states across the nation, Nevada does not have a dog bite statute. In fact, in 2013 Nevada was the 14th state in the nation to prohibit breed-specific legislation by local governments. In other words, a city or county may not place a ban on a dog breed in Nevada. That being said, under Nevada’s dog bite laws a dog owner potentially faces civil liability for a lawsuit when the animal bites or attacks someone. Specifically, if the following is present a dog owner may be held responsible for harm suffered:

  • The attack was precipitated by the dog owner's negligence (like if the owner's improper maintenance of the fence allows the dog to find or create a gap and escape the backyard, or if the dog owner exposes someone to his dog that he knows is prone to attack); or

  • At the time of the attack the owner was in violation of a municipal ordinance regarding dog ownership (like not having the dog on a leash or behind a fence).

In these scenarios, a victim of a Nevada dog bite may be able to recover monetary compensation for injuries suffered.

Dangerous Dog Breeds

Nevada law authorizes the forced euthanization of a dog that has been determined “dangerous” or “vicious” if law enforcement deems the animal is a threat. Generally speaking, Nevada considers a dog dangerous when:

  • Without provocation the animal has behaved menacingly, when the dog is off his own property, on two separate occasions within 18 months to the point where a reasonable person would be led to defend him or herself against substantial bodily harm; or

  • Without provocation to the animal, on public or private property and whether or not the dog was on its own property, killed or inflicted substantial bodily harm against on a person; or

  • Without provocation of the animal, while on its own property, injured or killed any domestic animal; or

  • If it was used during the commission of a crime.

That being said, a dog cannot be classified as “dangerous” or “vicious” based solely on its breed, if an attack is the result of provocation, or if the dog was behaving defensively in response to the commission of a crime.

Bad Reputation

Over the years, pit bulls and similar dog breeds have gotten a bad reputation for attacking children, adults, and even other animals. Statistics kept by DogsBite.org reveal canines killed 392 Americans between 2005-2016. Pit bulls were responsible for mauling to death 254 people—65% of the total number of deaths during those years. While the credibility of this site has been questioned, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia issued a 2009 report in the Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery found more than 50% of the attacks over a five-year span were by pit bulls.

Nevada Personal Injury Lawyers

In short, not only is it not illegal to own a pit bull, but it is illegal for a city council to prohibit pit bull ownership. Additionally, if your dog attacks another person or animal or fatally injures another, you may be held liable for damages and/or wrongful death. If you have questions about Nevada’s dog bite laws or are facing any other legal issue, contact the seasoned attorneys at Parry & Pfau.

(image courtesy of Duffy Brook)