Dog Bite Lawyers

Lawyers Handling Dog Bite, Dangerous & Vicious Animal, And Pet Attack Cases

Photo of a dog being aggressiveMan and woman’s best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year. A Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities, less than 1 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are necessarily more likely to bite or kill.

Experts believe that public education and responsible dog ownership can help prevent these bites. The third full week of May is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about a dozen die. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls.

This can particularly be the case when it come to the “terrible ten” list of the most aggressive dogs. According to the CDC report the “Pit Bull” and Rottweiler account for 60% of fatal dog attacks. The 10 most dangerous breeds are the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, Alaskan Malamute and the Akita.

  • “Pit Bull”: is actually not a recognized breed and is instead a generic term used to categorize several breeds including: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Broken down into individual breeds, none of the above would make the “terrible ten”. However, these breeds were designed to fight bears, bait bulls, and pit fighting. These breeds are bred to be aggressive, powerful fighters. Their bite exerts hundreds of pounds of pressure, more than that of the average German Shepherd. These dogs will exhibit aggressive tendencies; it is what they were bred to do.
  • Rottweiler: The Rottweiler is a member of the AKC’s “Working Group”. These are powerful and intelligent dogs. Properly obtained and trained, these dogs should not be dangerous. However, the popularity of this breed has been it’s downfall. Unscrupulous breeders, anxious to make a quick profit are as guilty of tarnishing this magnificent breed’s name as a reckless owner.
  • Siberian Husky: The original “sled dog”, the Siberian Husky’s original purpose as a sled dog was to carry a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. This is a large and powerful dog with a high energy level. This breed has a high prey drive and strong willed temperament, which when not bred, trained or handled properly, can make it a dangerous breed, especially around children.
  • Saint Bernard: This is a huge, powerful dog that can be calm, gentle and patient when bought from a careful, caring breeder and properly trained and socialized. However, bought from a pet store, or poor breeder could end up with a sickly, dominant or aggressive St. Bernard.
  • German Shepherd: this dog is known for its intelligence and faithfulness. It’s many roles include family companion, guide dog, and police dog. The popularity of this breed causes it to be on the list of the “Terrible Ten.” Unscrupulous or uneducated breeders, more worried about turning a profit than breeding the best German Shepherd, have introduced thousands of nervous, timid, territorial, aggressive and dominant, GSD’s into homes across America. This is a breed that should never be bought then forgotten in the back yard. A well-bred German Shepherd with proper training is a joy while an improperly bred and untrained GSD can be dangerous and aggressive, causing injury.
  • Great Dane: This is a regal, elegant breed that is usually gentle, easygoing and mild mannered. But a Great Dane bought from a poor breeder or raised incorrectly is anything but gentle. Many such dogs are often hyperactive, nervous and aggressive, which can be particularly dangerous in a 150 lb animal.
  • Doberman Pinscher: Known world-wide as a guard dog, military dog and Schutzhund dog. It was bread many years ago to accompany tax collectors in rough neighborhoods. The Doberman Pinscher’s manner is reserved and protected. While Doberman temperament varies, (some are sweet and mellow, while others are nervous or suspicious) early training and socialization is a must. Dobermans bred for show are often more slender, elegant and less aggressive than working lines. This dog responds to gentle correction. Hit, slap or otherwise abuse this breed and you’re asking for trouble.
  • Chow Chow: Under this breed’s adorable “fuzzball” appearance lies an independent, serious and protective dog. Ongoing exercise, socialization and supervision are essential when owning a Chow. Leaving a Chow Chow unsupervised in a fenced yard for long periods of time can result in the dog being overly-territorial. The Chow will be overtly aggressive to strangers entering “his” land.
  • Alaskan Malamute: The most wolf-like of dogs, the Alaskan Malamute is a true pack animal with the natural instinct to “lead or be led”. This is a powerful muscular athletic dog with a high prey drive. Too many owners fall in love with this breed’s appearance without investigating the other facets of the breed.
  • Akita: The last of the “Terrible Ten” is the Akita. A powerfully built dog originally developed to hunt bears in Japan, the Japanese now use the Akita as a guard dog and police dog. This powerful breed can be difficult to train and will bite if threatened. Originally bred to fight bears and protect the owner’s possessions, this breed’s personality is often described as “bear-like”. While Japanese mothers often left their children in the care of the capable Akita, be warned that the breed’s tolerance of children does not usually extend beyond the family “pack”. Food for thought for suburban families who live in close proximity to dozens of neighborhood children: the Akita may view as these neighborhood children as “intruders”.

The public health problem of dangerous dogs and other animals can be addressed through dog bite prevention programs and by tracking and reporting trends on U.S. dog bite injuries. Dog bites are a largely preventable public health problem, and adults and children can learn to reduce their chances of being bitten. When a dog bite or other animal attack occurs, bringing a lawsuit in court to obtain compensation for the injury and to hold the responsible owner accountable can also work to prevent future attacks. Lawsuits of this type encourage owners to be more responsible with dangerous pets and can also make the insurance companies who defend such actions more diligent in seeing to it their insureds are more responsible pet owners.

Things to Consider Before You Get a Dog

  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household.
  • Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog and, if so, delay acquiring a dog.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler.
  • Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).
  • Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., wrestling).
  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose abdomen and relinquishing food without growling).
  • Immediately seek professional advice (e.g., from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

Preventing Dog Bites

  • Teach children basic safety around dogs and review regularly.
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

The New Jersey dog bite lawyers at Keefe Law Firm represent men, women and children who have been bitten or attacked by dogs, pets and various types of vicious animals. Dogs and other animals kept as pets have frequently caused harm and serious physical injuries to innocent people, especially some of the more aggressive breeds. Dog attacks can cause serious personal injury including cuts and severe lacerations including scarring on the face. Attacks can also cause broken bones or torn skin, severe emotional distress including nightmares about the attack and even traumatic brain injury in some cases. When an injury occurs because of a dangerous dog, contact an experienced trial lawyer to protect your legal rights.

Victims of dog or animal bites often wrongly believe that there is no legal recourse because the act however painful was performed by an animal or because the animal does not know any better or because of a general reluctance to sue over something as simple as a bite. Such perceptions, however sympathetic and favorable to animals as they may be, clearly fail to understand the relevant law. The law does not hold the dog or animal responsible. It is the owner of the dog or animal who has a legal duty and obligation to ensure that his/her pet does not cause harm or injury to others. The owner is ultimately responsible for his/her pet including the harm which that animal may inflict upon another. People who are sued because of a dangerous pet may typically be covered under some kind of insurance such as homeowners or general liability insurance.

In the last decade, there was a popular trend among dog owners to acquire breeds known for their strength and aggression including bulldogs, mastiffs, pit bulls, rottweilers, terriers and others. Some of these dog breeds had known tendencies toward hostile behavior. Whether such dogs proved to be a real risk of harm and injury to individuals, was largely dependent upon the training and treatment provided by the pet’s owner. All breeds of dogs can pose a risk of serious harm or injury to men, women and children.

In recent years, police investigations and arrests in connection with the animal cruelty in such illegal activities as dog fighting have served to protect abused animals as well as innocent victims, who could have been exposed to great risks of harm from these animals trained to be vicious and deadly. Despite these well publicized efforts by law enforcement and other authorities, we still periodically see news reports regarding dog attacks and animal aggression and the victims of such vicious behavior by certain pets.

The trial attorneys at Keefe Law Firm are ready, willing and able to discuss your potential dog bite law suit case and advise you is if we feel your case is meritorious and we would agree to represent you. A successful dog bite case can not only compensate the victim, but can also work to protect men, women and children from the risks of serious harm and injury from dog bites and attacks by vicious and dangerous animals by discouraging irresponsible dog ownership. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or an animal attack, you may have a legal claim or lawsuit related to this event.

Visit our New Jersey dog bite liability laws page for more information on New Jersey dog bite statutes and laws.

Contact the New Jersey dog bite attorneys at Keefe Law Firm to see if they can help you.