"You cannot see that dog as a pet, it's no longer a pet," David Clark said. "It become a dangerous weapon similar to a loaded gun."
The owners of two cane corsos that mauled and killed a jogger last week are charged with second degree murder and owning a dangerous animal causing death.
Sebastiano Quagliata and Valbona Lucaj were arraigned today and could get life in prison if convicted.
Lawyers say in this case, it will all come down to what the owners knew.
"When you have a dangerous animal that you know it's dangerous, then you start crossing over into the area of civil liability into criminal liability," said David Clark, a personal injury lawyer in Lansing.
He says the owners are facing murder charges because they might have known their animals had the potential to kill.
"You cannot see that dog as a pet, it's no longer a pet," Clark said. "It become a dangerous weapon similar to a loaded gun."
So what makes animals act this way? Some dogs like large pit bulls and cane corsos are known for having aggressive personalities.
Marie Hopfensperger works with animals with aggression issues every day. She says the main way a dog can become dangerous is if it's scared.
"Dogs that are fearful or anxious are often the most typical in terms of the patients I see for aggression," she said. "And it's usually because they're really scared."
Even though dog maulings almost always make headlines, it's important to remember dog attacks on people are rare.
If your dog starts to get aggressive with people or other animals, make sure it's fenced in or on a leash at all times.
You'll also want to take it to a vet to see if there's any behavioral treatment for the aggression. Or to see if there are any physical problems causing the dog to be temperamental.
And, make sure to watch how you act around dogs. Stay calm and let dogs get to know you before you try to play with them. And don't stare a dog in the eye if it's showing signs of aggression.