The State of New Jersey employs strict liability when it comes to dog bites, and this means that if someone else’s dog attacks and bites you, you won’t need to prove that the animal’s owner knew that it was aggressive – such as if it had bitten its own owner in the past. The owner’s knowledge of their dog’s aggression, however, could strengthen your legal claim.
The fact is that dog owners are not immune to bites from their own pets, and the results can be very serious – just as they can when strangers or non-family members endure dog bites. If someone else’s dog leaves you injured, an experienced New Jersey dog bite lawyer can help.
The State of New Jersey does not identify any specific dog breeds as aggressive, which means dog owners do not face any specific rules or restrictions in relation to dog breeds. In other words, dog lovers can own any kind of dog they’d like in New Jersey, but every dog owner faces the same responsibility to protect others from their pets.
The truth is that while some dogs prove themselves dangerously aggressive, any dog – even those who have never shown any sign of aggression in the past – can become aggressive at any moment, which makes dog ownership an immense responsibility.
Once a dog has exhibited aggression – even when that means biting its owner or a family member – it puts the pet owner on legal alert. Any dog that attacks a person or another animal unprovoked can be labeled dangerous by the state, which can lead to impoundment by the officer responding to the incident. From here, the court will determine if it’s safe for the dog to return home, and it may impose contingencies that can include all the following:
While dog owners don’t necessarily report when their own pets attack them to the authorities, the information can often be learned from family members, coworkers, or neighbors or from subpoenaed medical records.
It’s considered rare for a dog to attack its owner, but it does happen. An owner who has raised a dog since it was a pup and who treats it well is unlikely to experience any aggression from the animal personally, but there are exceptions to this rule. Statistics regarding dogs attacking their owners are incredibly sparse because most owners are loath to report these incidents.
Dogs are most likely to become uncharacteristically aggressive when they are frightened, anxious, feel threatened, frustrated, or are protecting something they consider of value. For example, when a dog is excited by something that captures its interest, such as a rabbit streaking past, it may be torn between loyalty to its owner and aggression toward its owner when their attempt at giving chase is thwarted.
A dog that is experiencing an illness or injury that leaves it in pain or in a state of anxiety can also exhibit aggression toward its owner that the owner may not see coming. More often than not, however, dogs turn on their owners because they fear or mistrust them in the first place, which is typically the result of cruel practices on the part of the pet owners.
It is important for dog owners to know the signs of aggression that their dogs exhibit and to be on the lookout for them. Dogs tend to first exhibit anxiety, which progresses to fear and then morphs into full-blown aggression.
While anxiety can take different forms in different dogs, an anxious dog tends to exhibit signals like the following:
A dog that exhibits anxiety can easily progress to aggression, which is one of its only modes of self-protection.
A fearful dog will amp up the signs of anxiety with more pronounced signals that can include whining, growling, or baring its teeth. At this point, failing to calmly intervene can lead to adverse consequences.
Once the dog passes through anxiety and fear, it can lead to full-on aggression, which can include narrowed, piercing eyes and ears that are pinned back to its head. The dog may also lunge forward and snap and growl or bark aggressively.
When a dog is to the point of acting aggressively toward its owner, the matter is serious, and it’s time for the owner to de-escalate the situation. The matter of de-escalating aggression boils down to the following basic steps:
If your dog’s aggression is unpredictable and frightens you, you may have some tough decisions to make.
It bears repeating that any dog can show aggression at virtually any time, which means that dog owners shouldn’t rely on a pet’s past behaviors to predict its future actions – unless it’s been aggressive in the past, which is highly indicative of future aggression. Every dog owner is responsible for protecting others from their pet’s aggression – whatever the breed. Some breeds, however, are statistically more inclined to engage in dangerously aggressive behavior.
Consider the following telling statistics shared by DogsBite.org on the matter:
While New Jersey does not employ any laws that prohibit a specific breed of dog, such as pit bull or rottweiler, owners are – nevertheless – responsible for any injuries their pets cause others. As such, owners of both pit bulls and rottweilers must take the precautions necessary to protect others from the dangerous attacks these breeds are associated with.
The Mayo Clinic reports that dog bites are very closely linked to dangerous infections. Further, when a dog bite is on one’s hand, foot, or another jointed area, the complications can be that much more serious, including decreased range of motion. If the dog bite in question breaks the skin, you’re advised to seek medical attention within 24 hours. Further, if the injuries you’ve suffered are clearly serious, don’t hesitate to call 911. The best course of action after a dog bite is choosing to be safe rather than sorry and seeking the immediate medical care that you need.
David J. Cowhey at the New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer is a trusted dog bite liability attorney who takes great pride in his impressive track record of helping clients like you fully recover for their physical, financial, and emotional losses. Your claim is important, and our focused legal team has the experience and legal insight to help.
To learn more about what we can do for you, please don’t wait to reach out and contact us online or call us at 866-343-3181 today. You have limited time to take legal action in many situations, so never wait to learn about your legal rights following any dog bite.