Question: May a judge find that a pit bull has dangerous or vicious propensities, even if that pit bull has never bitten/attacked a person in the past?
Answer: Yes. Even if it is true that there was no evidence presented that pit bull owner possessed actual knowledge that the pit bull had dangerous propensities, this does not mean that the owner cannot be held liable. The trier of fact may infer that the owner “knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities only where evidence shows that the particular breed to which the owner’s dog belongs is known to exhibit such tendencies.” A judge may correctly make an inference for pit bulls. That is, the evidence presented at trial shows that pit bulls are known to exhibit dangerous or vicious tendencies. Further, evidence that a pit bull, which was not kept as a pet, was chained to a stake in the backyard for months supports such an inference. The reasonable inference from this is that the pit bull became dangerous or vicious because it was chained up with no apparent training or socialization for such a long period of time. Accordingly, a judge may infer that the pit bull owner knew, or should have known, that the pit bull was dangerous or vicious.