What Happens If Your Dog Bites Someone In New York State?
You love your dog, who you consider family, and your dog loves you. But, I hate to break it to you, not everyone else loves your dog. And most likely, the feeling is mutual for your dog. People swear their dog is friendly and harmless, then BAM!, their dog bites a neighbor, or another owner at the dog park, or maybe even a family member. What happens, legally speaking, if your dog bites someone in New York State?
What Dogs Are Legally Considered Dangerous In New York State?
New York State law defining dangerous dogs excludes police dogs, but otherwise considers a dog dangerous if,
(i) without justification attacks a person, companion animal as defined in subdivision five of section three hundred fifty of this chapter, farm animal as defined in subdivision four of section three hundred fifty of this chapter or domestic animal as defined in subdivision seven of this section and causes physical injury or death, or
(ii) behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to one or more persons, companion animals, farm animals or domestic animals or
(iii) without justification attacks a service dog, guide dog or hearing dog and causes physical injury or death.
According to the New York State Bar Association, a dog cannot be considered dangerous if:
- Your dog attacks a person committing a crime against you or your property
- A person is tormenting, abusing, or physically threatening the dog, or its puppies
- The dog responded to pain or injury
- The dog was protecting itself, its owner or custodian, or a member of its household
What Will Happen If Your Dog Bites Someone In New York State?
If your dog attacks someone (or even potentially attacks a person), it can be reported as a dangerous dog to your local animal control. After a complaint is made about your dog,
The local dog control or police officer should inform you of your right to “commence a proceeding.” This means that they should tell you the next step you will have to take, which includes describing what happened under oath/affirmation in front of a judge.
The next step involves either you or the animal control officer going before a judge. The judge will decide if there is “probable cause” that the dog is dangerous. If the judge decides there is probable cause they will order your dog removed from your possession immediately. Regardless of whether the judge orders a dog to be taken away, they must hold a hearing within 5 days. At the hearing, the person who made the complaint must provide clear and convincing evidence” that it is a dangerous dog.
What Happens If A Judge Declares Your Dog To Be Dangerous?
If, after your hearing, the dog finds your dog to be dangerous, a few different things can happen.
The judge MUST order:
- neutering/spaying the dog
- microchipping the dog
The judge MAY order:
- An evaluation of the dog by a certified behavioral expert you will be responsible for the cost)
- Confinement of the dog in a secure, humane manner for a certain period of time
- Keeping the dog on a leash on public grounds
- Putting a muzzle on the dog when in public
- Maintaining a liability insurance policy, in an amount determined by the court
The judge MAY order the dog to be euthanized or permanently confined under certain “aggravating circumstances.”
Aggravating circumstances refer to the following:
1) the dog, without justification, attacked a person causing serious physical injury or death;
2) the dog has a known vicious propensity evidenced by previous unjustified attacks on a person causing serious injury or death;
3) the dog, without justification, caused serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal, and in the past two years, caused similar unjustified attacks evidenced by a “dangerous dog” finding.
Keep in mind that you could also be sued civilly by any victim(s).
***This article is not intended to provide any legal advice or counsel
New York State Allows Certain Dogs To Be Excluded From Insurance Coverage
The New York State Insurance Department says that certain dogs can be excluded by an insurance company from coverage,
Coverage for any injuries to others or property of others caused by certain animals owned by or in the care of the insured will be excluded. This dog liability exclusion is added to exclude the following types of pure bred dogs:
1. Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or Staffordshire Bull Terriers)
2. Doberman Pinschers
5. Presa Canarios
7. Attack Dogs (Any Breed)
- Or any dog trained to attack or fight,
- Dogs that have been trained to attack persons, property or other animals;
- Dogs that have been trained guard persons or property;
any dog used in any manner, as a fighting dog or bred specifically for fighting;
- Any dog with a prior history of biting or attacking persons, property or other animals as established through insurance claims records, or through the records of local public safety, law enforcement or other similar regulatory agency.