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How are dogs labeled as vicious handled in Illinois?

If you are a dog owner or have a concern about a dog in your Illinois neighborhood, then it can help to familiarize yourself with the laws on vicious dogs. According to the Sangamon County Clerk, anyone who lives in the same county as the dog or any government official can file a vicious dog complaint, but it requires clear and convincing evidence for a court to label the dog as vicious.

In general, a court will not make a ruling against a dog that is considered justified in its actions. If the dog was protecting its owner or family members, either animal or human, or the actions were in response to the dog’s pain, then these are justifiable situations. Other similar situations include the dog attacking someone who was committing a crime or someone who was tormenting or hurting the dog or its offspring or had done so in the past. In addition, if the dog works in law enforcement or is a professionally trained guard dog, it cannot be labeled as vicious.

The court will look at all evidence gathered and may want the testimony of a veterinarian or other qualified animal behaviorist. Evidence may include medical records, law enforcement investigation reports and witness statements. The breed of the dog may not be considered as evidence. During the court case, the dog may or may not be ordered to be confined. This is at the discretion of the court. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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