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Have you or a loved one suffered a dog bite or attack?

Dogs are widely regarded as being "man's best friend." While there's no doubt that a dog can be a loyal and friendly companion, every dog has the capacity to be aggressive and to bite or attack. According to the New York City Economic and Development Corporation, the city is home to approximately 600,000 dogs. Given the close proximity to which New York City residents live to one another, it's important that both dog owners and non-dog owners alike understand how to protect against dog bites and attacks and the state's dog bite laws.

The New York City Health Department responds to approximately 4,000 dog bite incidences each year and the majority of these cases involve child victims. Dog owners in the city are required to register their pets and obtain a license. Additionally, while in public, dog owners must ensure that a dog is contained on a leash that measures no more than six feet in length.

In cases where a dog bites or attacks someone, New York law provides varying protections and legal remedies depending on whether a dog was previously deemed a "dangerous dog." In dog bite cases involving a dangerous dog, the dog's owner may face criminal misdemeanor charges, fines and even jail time. Additionally, the dog's owner is strictly liable for any medical costs that result from a dog bite injury.

In dog bite cases involving a dog that wasn't previously deemed dangerous in nature, a victim can still recover damages provided that he or she can prove that a dog's owner knew or should have known about a dog's aggressive tendencies. Dog owners who fail to spay or neuter, train and adequately socialize a dog may increase the risk that a dog will attack and injure another person.

The physical, mental and emotional injuries that may result from a dog bite injury or attack are often significant. NYC residents who have been the victim or who have had a child be the victim of a dog bite or attack, would be wise to consult with an attorney.

Source: New York City Health Department, "Be a Responsible Dog Owner," March 30, 2015, "N.Y. AGM. LAW ยง 121 : NY Code - Section 121: Dangerous dogs," March 30, 2015

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