October 8, 2014

Five Things to Do When a Dog Bites You

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

New Yorkers love their dogs and there are many dog friendly areas in the city. But a vicious dog that is not under control is a public menace.

You don’t have to go far from home to be bitten. Most dogs that bite belong to family, a friend or neighbor, and children are the most likely victims. Sometimes young children may get excited and try to hug an animal, or they may enter its space and make it feel threatened, causing it to respond by biting.

Dog Owners in New York Can Be Held Responsible for Injuries

Dog owners in New York may be held liable for the harm that a dog causes through a bite or dog attack, if the victim can prove that the dog owner knew or had been told that the dog was vicious.

Being a responsible dog owner means taking steps to prevent dog bites:

  • Spay or neuter the dog to cut down on aggression and territorial behavior. Dogs that are fixed are less likely to bite, and you can reduce the cost of a dog license in New York City by proving your dog is spayed or neutered.
  • Train the dog to follow commands such as “sit,” “stay” and “no” by putting it in an obedience class that will teach it to interact better with other dogs and people.
  • Expose your dog to social situations with other people and animals so it behaves properly.
  • Watch out for pets and people who might be interacting with your dog and don’t leave it unattended around others.

In case of a dog bite, take these steps:

  • Wash the wounds as soon as possible with soap and water, then cover them with a clean bandage or cloth. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Obtain information, including the name, address and phone numbers of the dog owner and the bite victim to enable the Health Department to check on the matter to ensure the dog doesn’t have rabies.
  • Call 311 to report all animal bites.
  • The law requires the dog’s owner to observe it for 10 days and report its health status to the Health Department.
  • Owners of animals that bite are not allowed to give them away while under observation for biting.

New York City has a unique set of dog-ownership laws:

  • Obtain a dog license: Under the City Health Code, dogs must have a license tag attached to their collar when in public. The licenses are valid for one year. You can renew annually at www.nyc.gov/doglicense.
  • Obey the city leash law: All dogs taken out into public must be on leashes no longer than six feet. To find out about dog parks and runs, go to www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/dogruns.
  • Annual rabies vaccinations required: Dogs and cats older than 4 months must be vaccinated, and rabies shots are required every year thereafter. Call your veterinarian to make sure your pet is current.
  • Don’t tie up your dog: Tethering or chaining your dog for more than three hours is against the law.
  • Don’t leave a mess: Clean up after your dog when taking it into a public area, using either a scooper or a plastic bag.

If you or a family member are bitten by a dog and want to pursue a personal-injury claim, contact an experienced dog bite attorney who can steer you through the legal system and help you obtain the compensation you need to pay for lost work time, mental anguish and physical injuries.

Dog bites can be severely traumatic, resulting in years of anguish and paranoia about pets. Make sure you receive the representation necessary to help make the pain disappear.