In June of this year, a mother was walking home with her daughters and niece in the Bronx when they were attacked by two pit bulls. All of the victims were left with bite wounds and scratches after the dogs had somehow gotten away from their owners and charged at the group- the owners reportedly did very little to stop the attack.

The following July, two pit bull attacks within one week rocked the community of Oceanside in the Town of Hempstead, resurfacing a controversial topic about the breed’s safety:

  • A resident was walking her four-year-old Yorkshire Terrier on July 13 when she saw her neighbor walking her 7-year-old pit bull. The pit bull became agitated, causing the owner to drop the leash and viciously attacked the Terrier who later died of the injuries.
  • Five days later on July 17, a family pit bull bit the head of an 11-month-old baby. Luckily the babies injuries were non-life threatening, but the family relinquished the dog to the town to be euthanized before any more harm could be done.

Another attack by a pit bull was reported the following month in Manhattan. The incident left a King Charles spaniel in Washington Heights with a disfigured jaw and the owner with defensive scratches from attempting to fight off the dog that would not stop circling her while out for a walk.

 

Dogs Bites are Deadly and Out of Control

Man’s best friend has been used for decades as a method for reducing stress, anxiety, and even physically guiding humans who require assistance due to disabilities. But not all dogs are cuddly and supportive, in fact, some are nothing more than deadly and dangerous. In a study published by DogBite.org examining dog attack fatalities between 2005 to 2016, approximately 433 Americans were killed by vicious canine attacks. Sadly, 208 of these fatalities were children under the age of nine years old, a population much more likely to be trusting and open to dogs even when they appear to be dangerous.

 

Injuries Caused by Dog Bites

Every year, there are an astounding 4.5 million dog bites reported according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- about one dog bite every 75 seconds! Dog bites can lead to serious injuries and infections as highlighted by MedicineNet, including:

  • Lacerations and severe skin damage
  • Injury to underlying muscles, nerves, and bone
  • Infections from diseases transferring from dog to human:
      • Rabies: a virus affecting the brain, almost always fatal
      • Capnocytophaga bacteria: can cause individuals with weak immune systems to become ill
      • Tetanus: toxin-producing bacteria that causes paralysis
      • MRSA: staph infection that is resistant to certain antibiotics, causes skin, lung, and urinary tract infections that can be life-threatening if it spreads to the bloodstream
      • Pasteurella: seen in over half of infected dog bites, causing painful red infection, swollen glands, swelling of joints, and difficulty moving

It’s estimated that about 1 in every 5 dog bites becomes infected after an attack, which can lead to serious illnesses, health conditions, and even death. While some injuries can be repaired with simple antiseptic and band-aids, other require serious medical care and surgery. Annually, around 27,000 victims of dog bites are forced to undergo reconstructive surgery from their attack, costing victims on average $18,200 just for a dog-bite related hospital stay.

 

Most Dangerous Breeds

Dog advocates around the country are adamant that owners are the number one factor of how dangerous a dog is to the public. Studies may show evidence that dogs are not born aggressive, yet the statistics regarding which breeds cause the most deadly attacks also do not lie.

DogBite.org revealed a study showing the number of fatalities linked to each breed over a 13-year study on fatal dog attacks. Out of the 433 deaths examined in the country, these breeds were responsible for the following deaths:

  • Pit bulls = 284 deaths
  • Rottweilers = 45 deaths
  • German shepherds = 20 deaths
  • Mixed breed = 17 deaths
  • American bulldogs = 15 deaths
  • Mastiff/bullmastiffs = 14 deaths
  • Husky = 3 deaths

Almost all of the serious and fatal dog attacks within the New York City and Long Island communities over the last few months have been traced back to pit bulls. Arguments could be made that aggressive owners are drawn to these types of dogs, which is causing their vicious behaviors. Feelings aside, there remains an enormous problem to be addressed when it comes to breeds with historical patterns of violent behaviors- these dogs are permanently damaging and killing people.

 

What’s the Law

New York residents have rights to a safe community without the fear of being mauled by aggressive dogs. Owning a dog is a privilege in the state, not a right, and there are laws that must be followed to keep communities safe from unnecessary and preventable dog attacks.

Most laws are locally based when it comes to leash requirements and areas where dogs are allowed in public. When it comes to determining ‘dangerous dogs’, New York State has its own protocols to follow when a complaint is made by a witness or victim of a dog attack. NYS defines a ‘dangerous dog’ as an animal who…

  • attacks a person or other companion animal without justification and uses physical injury or death.
  • behaves in a manner which would indicate the dog poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious harm or death.
  • attacks a service or guide dog without justification, causing physical injury or death.

Each municipality is required to name either a dog control/peace officer or employ their local police officers, to respond to situations where a dog attack occurs. These officers have the right to seize any dog who meets the following criteria:

  • any dog that cannot be identified and is not on the owner’s premises,
  • any dog that is not licensed, even if on the owner’s premises,
  • any licensed dog which is not in the control of their owner or not on the premises and there is probable cause to believe the dog is dangerous,
  • any dog which poses an immediate threat to the public safety.

When a dog is seized, a proceeding will be commenced to make a decision about what to do about the animal. Unfortunately, euthanizing violent dogs is generally the outcome of a serious dog attack, especially when there is no guarantee that the animal will not hurt or kill again once released.

 

What To Do About Dog Bites

Dog owners or pedestrians just out for a walk are being placed in an impossible position when coming up against an aggressive dog on the streets, particularly when they are off of a leash. The CDC recommends following these precautionary steps when encountering a possibly dangerous dog in public:

  • Stop, stay still and be calm.
  • Avoid making loud noises.
  • Do not make direct eye contact with the dog.
  • Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm voice to try to get the dog to leave.
  • Face the dog with the side of your body exposed to avoid appearing aggressive or challenging.
  • Slowly raise your hands to your neck and direct your elbows in.
  • Wait for the dog to leave

In the terrifying scenario where you are bitten by a dog, following these steps can be extremely helpful for the most favorable outcome when it comes to your health and safety:

  • Protect yourself with any bag or items you have on you. Curl into a ball if you are knocked down to protect your body.
  • Get to a safe place and seek medical attention for your injuries. Try to wash wounds immediately to reduce your chances of infection.
  • Report the incident to mandated officers in your community.
  • Call a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite injuries to explore your options for your particular accident.

 

Fight Back Against Dog Bites

Vicious dogs have no place in our communities and can put the lives of our residents at risk. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury or illness as a result of a dog bite, our expert personal injury attorneys at Siler & Ingber are here to fight for you. Our winning team is experienced in dog bite cases, keeping your well being and safety as a top priority throughout the entire process. Call 1-877-LAW-4343 for a free consultation to explore your options and to seek justice for your unnecessary accident.