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When Fido bites: Dog bite basics in New York

Dogs are an important part of our lives. We grow up with them on television, some with Lassie, some with Turner and Hooch and still others raising this generation with Paw Patrol. We have them in our homes or encounter them at parks or on walks. In most experiences, the encounter is a positive or neutral one. In some, the encounter may be aggressive and could turn into an attack that results in injuries. In New York City alone, there are an estimated 4,000 dog bites every single year. Boys between the ages of 5 and 12 are statistically most likely to be bitten, but anyone can be a victim.

What should I do if bit by a dog?

Those who are the victims of dog attacks can take steps to reduce the severity of the injury. The following can help:

  • Sanitize. Take time to carefully wash the bite wound. Use soap and cover the site with a bandage.
  • Seek medical attention. If the injury is not too severe, transport yourself to a local hospital or clinic to have the injury treated. If the injury is severe call emergency medical personnel.
  • Gather information. Get the contact information for the dog's owner and any witnesses to the attack.

New York law requires that the owner of the dog observe the dog for 10 days. This is done for a number of reasons, including helping to ensure the dog does not suffer from any communicable diseases that could be transferred to the victim, such as rabies.

Who is responsible for a dog attack?

Dog bite attacks can fall under both criminal and civil areas of law. In civil law, the attack falls into a category referred to as premises liability. This legal term refers to dangerous situations for which a property owner is responsible. Essentially, in these situations the "property" is considered the animal. As a result, in most cases the owner is liable for any injuries resulting from a dog attack. This can include the cost of medical bills, rehabilitative expenses and lost wages if work is missed as a result of the injuries.

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