2005-09-30 / Community

New Bill Sets Tough Penalties For Dog Attacks

New York State Governor George E. Pataki announced recently that he has signed into law legislation that will significantly increase the civil liability for the owners of dogs who cause serious personal injury, helping to promote more responsible pet ownership and deter vicious dog attacks.  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,” Governor 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.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L.  Rudgers said, “Governor

Pataki is right in signing this law, which will provide a stronger sanction against dog owners who negligently allow their dog to bite a person.  We need to make every effort to protect the public from dangerous animals and ensure victims are compensated for expenses incurred as a result of these attacks.”

Dogs bite Americans 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.

There are more than 660,000 dogs licensed in the State of New York,

excluding New York City.

The law takes effect November 14, 2005.

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