Dog Bites: They’re Really Not as Breed Specific as You Think
Few who suffer dog bites care little about the psychological reasons behind the dog’s attack. In the meantime, many would like to think of it as breed specific. In particular, pit bulls get a bad rap. That said, are they really as bad as people make them sound?
At the Jersey shore, pit bulls attacked and killed another dog whose owner walked it on a leash. As police searched for the two large animals, some pit bull owners expressed their indignation. In fact, a news piece focused on the preconceived notions the general public has about pit bulls.
From all appearances, the term pit bull represents somewhat on an overstatement. While there is actually a pedigree breed known as the American Pit Bull Terrier, many other kinds of dogs fall under the general classification. This includes a variety of mixed breed animals.
While some consider pit bulls ferocious adversaries with killer tendencies, others object. They claim it’s all in the way the owners train them. It’s not rare to find a doting pit bull who nannies the family’s children. However, it’s also not unusual to find someone baiting the dogs into fighting for sport.
The photograph on Jersey City’s Animal Control web page actually features a photograph of a dog that looks like a pit bull.. While it appears quite docile, no doubt some would walk away from it fearfully.
The Law and Dog Bites
One thing is certain. Neither local ordinances nor state law focuses on particular breeds as potentially causing harm. Many say that’s a good thing. After all, pit bulls aren’t the only ones with bad reputations. Other dogs with negative stereotypes include German Shepherds, Chow Chows and Dobermans.
The fact is that any dog is capable of biting a person, leading to a number of painful consequences. The teeth of a tiny Chihuahua may be small. However, exposure to rabies remains a threat. And, rabies shots are painful all on their own.
Just because there’s no specific law regarding which breeds are more dangerous than others, it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue a cause of action for a dog bite. An experienced dog bite attorney will investigate to determine who holds responsibility
Jersey City ordinances specifically address the duties of vicious or dangerous dog owners. What constitutes a vicious or dangerous dog relies on a few factors.
Notably, just because a dog bites you, it doesn’t mean local law considers it a vicious or dangerous animal. For one, if you’re on someone’s property without their permission, your lawyer will need to prove you weren’t willfully trespassing.
Meanwhile, the dog owner could also claim that you were tormenting, abusing, or assaulting its pet. These would also be reasons to work against the classification of the animal. In other words, the fact that any kind of dog bites you doesn’t automatically make it vicious or dangerous.
That said, Jersey City’s ordinances seek to protect others from harm. This means putting up signs warning of dangerous or vicious dogs. It also calls for use of muzzles and securing the pets on a “chain or leash not more than six feet long so that it shall be impossible for it to tear or otherwise wound with its teeth any human being or animals.”
The New Jersey state statutes address the issue of liability when it comes to dog bites. NJSA 4:19-16 finds owners liable for damages regardless of whether the dog demonstrated a history of prior viciousness.
There are restrictions concerning the liability of dog owners, however. An attorney can work with you to establish whether or not you have the right to monetary damages.