The "Make My Day" Law and Dogs

In my last post, I discussed Colorado’s “Make My Day” law, which stipulates that Colorado residents have the right to use deadly force against intruders in their home (read the full blog post HERE).

But some questions have come up about dogs. If an intruder breaks into your home when you’re away and is attacked by your dog, are you liable? Or are your dog’s actions covered by the “Make My Day” law?

Let’s take a look.

Man’s Best Friend

In my opinion, your dog is an extension of yourself. In fact, in Boulder, you are not allowed to “own” a dog, you are legally considered the “guardian” of a dog. (To clarify, this law doesn’t actually give dogs more rights or their human guardians any fewer, it’s just a change in language used to describe the relationship and symbolically demonstrate Boulder’s regard for animal rights).

I believe that under the “Make My Day” law, if you were at home when somebody broke into your house, and you instructed your dog to “Kill”, the attack would be considered an act of personal self-defense. So, it stands to reason that if the dog were home alone and it attacked someone who was breaking and entering, it would be covered by the “Make My Day” law.

However, as I stated in my previous blog post, were the dog outside of the physical structure of your dwelling, it’s a different story.

Even if your dog attacked someone who was trespassing on your land, it would not be covered by the “Make My Day” law unless the attack happened within the physical structure of your house. At the least I would consider it a very grey area. That’s how clear the law is about only covering incidents that occur within a physical home.

Dogs and Self-Defense

Years ago I had a big Husky named Theo who grew to be about 95 lbs. One day when we were out on a walk, a much smaller dog attacked Theo and, of course, Theo defended himself. The confrontation didn’t last long because Theo was so much bigger.

As a result of that unfortunate confrontation, Theo got a ticket for being a “dangerous animal,” which could have resulted in him being put down.

However, I defended the case by saying that Theo was simply exercising his right to self-defense. A dog, just like a person, can defend himself. The fact that he wins does not mean that he should face charges.

The judge dropped the charge of dangerous animal prior to trial, and we pleaded guilty to dog at large (someone had not latched the gate.

Like I always say, every case is different and requires individual attention to determine the best approach. If you are dealing with a criminal charge and need legal counsel, let’s talk. Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.

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