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In the past, dogs have been one technique to provide aggressive security in the home, when other measures like alarms are considered passive and only alert authorities. However, alarms are not the type that will get owners thrown into jail or stuck with a substantial settlement fee. There have been many news articles surrounding attacks by vicious dogs through New York City, and it is a terrible fate for those who suffer inadvertently for an attack.
One such incident involved a 115-pound bull mastiff, which attacked two 13-year-old boys; one of the boys was found dead hours later. Another recent story involved a dog in Chelsea who, in the last two years, has bitten eight people. The Health Department is currently determining what will be the future of the dog: whether it will be required for the dog to be muzzled or even relocated. 

The Law: Section 123 on Dog Attacks

When it comes to dangerous dogs and dog attacks in New York, the law (Section 123) allows for victims and witnesses to respond to vicious dogs attacks in a few ways. If you have witnessed a dog attack, the person may make a complaint, under oath, to any municipal judge or justice about the attack. It will be up to the judge or justice to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the dog is dangerous; if the dog is found to be dangerous it may be immediately seized and held until there is a hearing. Even if probable cause is not found, the complaint can still be heard at the hearing (though the dog will not be seized), and it will be up to the person bringing the complaint to prove at the hearing that the dog is dangerous. If the dog is found to be dangerous, it will be up to the judge or justice to decide the appropriate action, which could be:

  • An evaluation by a certified behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist to determine what training the dog needs to be rehabilitated;
  • A required leash restraint for the dog any time it is on public property to ensure public safety;
  • The use of a muzzle when the dog is on public premises.

It might be found that the dog should be humanely euthanized or permanently confined if the dog is found to be dangerous AND if one of the following was present in the complaint:

  • The dog attacked without provocation and led to the serious injury or fatal death of a victim;
  • The dog has a known vicious propensity due to a previous, unjustified attack, which led to serious physical injury or a fatality.

Liability of the Dog Owner

The owner of the dangerous dog might also be subject to monetary damages if the owner negligently allows, either through any act or omission, the dangerous dog to attack and cause serious physical injury or death to another person, animal, or service animal. The penalties worsen if the owner of the dog had reason to know that the dog was dangerous, and did not take any measures to prevent the dog from attacking another. An owner of the dog, however, will not be liable or subject to damages if the dog attack was in defense of a person during a crime, such as a murder, robbery, burglary, arson, rape, or kidnapping.

NYC Personal Injury Attorneys

As a resident of New York City, you should feel that you are safe while walking around your neighborhood and within your residence. If you or a loved one have sustained physical injuries from a vicious dog attack, please free to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at Keogh Crispi, P.C., who serve the New York City area, either by calling us at 212-818-0600 or by sending us a message online. Our dedicated attorneys are here to help you recover for any damages or injuries that you have sustained as a result of the attack. 

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