Tragic mauling deaths are unfortunately not uncommon. However, Tracy Garcia, 52, was initially listed as the victim of a pack of pit bulls in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It turned out that it was actually a pack of dachshunds, or wiener dogs. Police are now considering charges against their owner.
The dogs were all below the height of her knee and the pack was composed of three females and four males ranging in age from about 1 to 3 years old.
Police shot one dog which appeared aggressive and then euthanized six others.
Garcia’s husband died in 2006 but she is survived by two children, a son and a daughter, and two sisters.
It is often said the every dog get one free bite in American torts. However, the “one free bite rule” is a commonly misunderstood torts doctrine — suggesting that you are not subject to strict liability until after the first time your dog bites someone. In fact, you are subject to strict liability whenever you know or have reason to know of the vicious propensity of your animal. That can be satisfied by conduct such as frequent snapping or aggressive behavior. Indeed, that was the evidence used in the famous case from San Francisco involving lawyers and dog owners Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. They were found both criminally and civilly liable after their two Presa Canario dogs killed apartment neighbor Diane Whipple. Various neighbors complained about the dogs, which the couple inherited from a convict. Paul “Cornfed” Schneider is a reputed member of the Aryan Brotherhood and was planning a guard-dog business to be called “Dog-O-War.” Three days after Whipple’s death, the couple adopted Schneider as their son. The dogs had not bitten anyone but were known to be aggressive.
However, these are wiener dogs. For civil liability, there would have to be a showing of knowledge of viciousness. That may be possible if the dogs were allowed to roam wild, particularly if there were earlier complaints. There can also be criminal liability.
Oklahoma has codified the strict liability elements of the common law. Oklahoma has a specific law that addresses dog bites and other injuries caused by dogs. Oklahoma Statutes Section 4-42.1 states that a dog’s owner is liable for damages when a dog attacked a person who did not provoke the animal and the victim was in a place where he or she had a lawful right to be.
That would seem to fit the description of this case.