Experienced Attorneys Explain New York Dog Bite Laws
Many New Yorkers are unaware of a new law that may result in fewer dog bites within the state. In June, both houses of the legislature passed bills – subsequently signed by Governor Cuomo – under which most veterinarians may fulfill part of their annual continuing education requirement by providing free spay/neuter services.
What do continuing education requirements for vets have in common with dog bites? It’s pretty simple. By incentivizing veterinarians to provide additional spay/neuter services, there should be fewer unneutered male dogs in the state. According to a number of studies, including a prominent one published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of serious dog bites come at the hands – rather, the teeth – of unneutered male dogs.
Dog Bites Are a Serious Problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.5 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States each year. Of those attacks, some three-quarters of a million Americans require some medical attention, often on an emergency basis. Moreover, virtually three out of every four dog bites don’t involve an unknown dog; they occur on the victim’s property – usually involving a dog with which the victim is familiar.
Preventing Dog Bites
Even the friendliest dog can snap or nip under certain circumstances. Canine experts have a number of suggestions to decrease your risk of dog bites. Here are a few:
- When dealing with any dog – even your own – maintain confident, but cautious body-language.
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog. If such an unfamiliar dog approaches you, try not to panic. Avoid eye contact and do not run or scream. That will only increase the chances of a bite.
- Never disturb a dog while it is eating or sleeping.
- Be extremely careful around a mother dog that is nursing her puppies.
- Permit a dog to smell you before you try to pet it. Don’t make sudden moves toward the dog’s head and, when you pet the dog, scratch under its chin; don’t pat it on top of the head.
- Report strays or dogs displaying strange behavior to your local animal control.
Dog Owners in New York May Be Liable for Damages Due to Bites
Across the nation, the insurance industry pays over $1 billion annually in dog-bite claims. In New York, the owner of a “dangerous dog” is strictly liable for medical costs associated with dog bites. A “dangerous dog” is generally one that has shown what the dog’s owner should recognize as vicious tendencies. For example, prior bites can form the basis of showing the dog is vicious, if the owner was aware of them. If the dog has shown no earlier vicious tendencies, recovery of damages can be more difficult, although under some circumstances, it is still possible. The key to recovery generally is the retention of skilled, experienced legal counsel.
Make the Right Call
The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has the experience and resources to help. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a dog bite or dog attack in the Greater Capital Region and beyond, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
With offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and Schenectady, we have been representing clients for more than 100 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.