Your Pet And Citizen Dog Bite Laws In NY- What You Need to Know
All dog parents really love their dogs, most consider their pet to be a member of the family and even refer to them as their kids. We also know that owners would never intentionally put their dog in a position to cause harm. Many even elect to get the Canine Good Citizens‘s certificate. And yet, the first thing many new dog owners or inexperienced dog sitters will do is bring their dog to the dog park where accidents happen daily. Regardless of intention, no matter how well you care for and train him, at heart your dog is still an animal with instincts that not even the best training can suppress 100 percent of the time. About 4,000 dog bites occur in New York City every year for a variety of reasons.
Most responsible pet owners follow the leash laws and keep their dogs up to date on shots and vaccinations. However, what happens when your dog attacks someone else? Few people are familiar with what can happen if their dog bites another person or animal. Knowing the laws that govern dog bites will help you understand your rights and responsibilities in case the unthinkable happens.
Dog Bite Penalties
New York is what is referred to as a mixed state when it comes to the one-bite rule. The statute holds you, the dog owner or keeper, liable for the dog’s behavior. If your dog has shown prior aggressive behavior, it is considered a dangerous dog, and you will be solely liable for a victim’s medical costs. Victims include other animals or people injured by your dog and the law includes payment of medical or veterinary costs, as applicable to the circumstances.
New York requires additional proof if further damages are claimed. For example, a dog bite victim has to prove not only that the dog had a habit and proclivity to bite people, but that the dog’s owner knew about this tendency. New York prohibits compensation based on negligence.
Liability For Medical Costs If The Dog Is Dangerous (Repeat Offender)
It is the Agriculture & Markets Law (AML) that covers the one-bite rule and provides for the circumstances under which you can be sued as the “owner or lawful custodian” of your dog. As discussed above, if your dog bites more than once the consequences escalate. Section 121 of AML defines how this works when your dog injures other dogs (animals) or people.
You, the pet owner, are usually held responsible for your dog’s attack. However, in the case of a landlord with a tenant harboring a vicious dog, the landlord can be held liable if there is proof that he knew the tenant’s dog was vicious. This is also true even if the attack did not occur on the rental property.
The legal definition of a dangerous dog states that it, with no justification, attacks and:
- Kills or injures any person
- Kills or injures a companion animal (seeing eye or deaf assistance service animals)
- Behaves in a way a reasonable person would deem a serious and imminent threat possibly resulting in injury
If you as a dog owner permit your dog to bite someone, and your dog was already declared dangerous due to another biting incident, the consequences increase. On a second or higher offense that results in a serious injury, you can actually receive a criminal conviction (misdemeanor). This comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail (infrequently imposed).
According to the Agriculture & Markets Law, a serious injury is one that, as a result of your dog biting someone, results in death or a risk of death. It includes injuries that lead to permanent and serious disfigurement or damage to any bodily organ.
If your dog was already known as a dangerous animal and escapes from your possession to kill or injure someone, you can be criminally convicted of a misdemeanor. Furthermore, you can be charged additional criminal penalties and be subject to a civil liability suit.
Tom Moverman established the Lipsig Queens Firm with Harry Lipsig and his partners in 1989; The firm’s focus is in personal injury, construction accidents, car accidents, products liability, and medical malpractice.
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