N.Y. Law Takes Bigger Bite Out of Owners of Dogs That Cause Injury

September 28, 2005

New York Gov. George E. Pataki has signed into law legislation that increases the civil liability for the owners of dogs that cause serious personal injury.

The law also provides an incentive to help victims of these attacks receive restitution.

“More than five million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, many of them defenseless children,” Pataki said. “Too often, these attacks have tragic consequences, resulting in serious injury or even death. This new law will crack down on irresponsible and negligent dog owners by increasing the penalties associated with dog attacks and helping victims obtain restitution.”

Under the new law, the maximum penalty for dog attacks that cause serious physical injury will increase from $800 to $1,500. The maximum fine for a dog attack in which the dog has been previously determined to be dangerous will increase from $1,000 to $3,000. The law also will allow for reductions in penalties and fines in situations where the owner of the dog has made restitution to the victim as compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings or other damages resulting from the animal’s attack.

There are more than 660,000 dogs licensed in the state of New York, excluding New York City.

The law takes effect Nov. 14, 2005.

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. said, “An incident in my community involving a savage dog attack on a child, Elijah Torres, demonstrated the inadequacy of New York’s laws in this area. Our State laws have unfortunately been more concerned with dog attacks on livestock than on children. This new law will change this disparity by increasing the penalty for dog attacks.”

Americans are bitten by dogs nearly five million times a year. More than 800,000 dog attacks require medical treatment, and more than half of the patients are children.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, dog bites are among the top 10 categories of children’s injuries.

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