The Law surrounding Dog Bites in New York

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Dogs are beautiful loving animals who are often described as man’s best friend. However when dogs are handled incorrectly or put in difficult, stressful situations they may react badly.

Dogs show many calming signs before they react aggressively but unfortunately not every dog owner knows how to recognise or prevent these.

A dog bite can be extremely dangerous to anyone, especially children or elderly people. In some cases dog bites can even be fatal.

Around 4.5 million people in America are bitten by dogs each year. 1 out of 5 of those bites can cause a serious personal injury and require medical attention.

In this article we will look at:-

  • How to prevent a dog bite
  • What to do if a dog bites you
  • Laws owners should be aware of to prevent dog bites
  • The law regarding dog bites in New York
  • What damages you could recover

How to prevent a dog bite

The most important thing to remember is if you don’t know a dog don’t touch or approach it. Even cute fluffy dogs can give a nasty bite so if you don’t have the owner’s permission stay away.

Half of all dog bites in America are to children between 5 and 9 years old. Never leave young children alone with a dog, even if it is a close family pet. Children don’t always know how to handle animals and the nicest of dogs can become stressed with a child pulling its ears or running at it with arms flailing.

Dogs are pack animals and as such are very protective of their food. Try not to touch or go near a dog whilst it is eating. Bitches can also get very protective of their puppies especially while they are feeding them, give the mother space so she doesn’t feel threatened.

It is always better to let a dog approach you. If you have to approach slowly and use your voice so they are aware of your presence. If a dog does react to you do not scream and run away. Always stay calm, moving slowly and avoiding eye contact.

What to do if a dog bites you

  • Seek medical attention immediately and call 911 if serious
  • Take pictures of bite and any damage caused to clothing, property etc
  • Get any witness information
  • Collect animal control records, medical records, police reports
  • Report the bite as soon as possible. The NYC Health Code requires dog/ animal bites to be reported within 24hours. Follow this link to fill out the necessary forms http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/environmental/animals-bite-rpt.shtml

Laws owners should be aware of to prevent dog bites

New York state law requires all dogs to be licensed and every dog should always have a license tag attached to their collar at all times. A dog owner may be subjected to fines should these laws not be adhered to.

Dogs are to be kept on a leash which is no longer than 6ft in all public areas unless it is a designated off leash area.

Dogs are considered dangerous should they menace, threaten, attacks or bites a person. This is difficult to define as it can be very subjective. It is important to bear in mind as an owner, that different people might see different behaviours as threatening.

You could be liable for fines or prosecution should your dog be considered out of control or bite someone.

State law requires all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies. If your dog bites someone, you may have to pick up a hefty bill whilst your dog is quarantined should you not have the correct vaccination documents.

There are many other laws surrounding owning a dog in New York City. Download and read up on them here :- http://www.nysba.org/workarea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=27131

The law regarding dog bites in New York

New York is a “one bite free” state. This is a controversial law which means dog owners won’t face any charges if it is the first time their dog has bitten someone.

The law requires dog owners to “use reasonable care” in preventing attacks and injuries from their dog. If your dog is known for being aggressive or showing dangerous tendencies you can automatically be liable for any injuries your dog causes. This means if your dog is seen to be aggressive and attacks a person or another dog you could be potentially end up in jail.

Damages you can recover from a dog biteWhen you receive a personal injury from a dog bite the owners will be liable for all medical damages. Anything that is considered outside of a personal injury, will have to be proven that the dog has previously shown dangerous tendencies.  

If a serious injury has happened the owner could be convicted of an offense. A serious injury means death, risk of causing death or disfigurement.

The statute of limitations in New York state that you have 3 years to file your law suit. However, it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer or qualified legal professional as soon as possible in order to get the best results.

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