Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
Somerset County
Hunterdon County

Dog bites: who is to blame?

Dogs have long been known as loyal and loving companions. After all, they offer unconditional support, entertainment, and protection to their human owners. Although these four-legged children are commonly considered members of the family, there are some that compromise these popular and endearing notions. Like any animal, dogs can have ranging temperaments; this is especially true regarding dogs who have been abused and who are raised to fight. While both of these practices are prohibited in New Jersey, they are not the only reasons a dog may bite, and there are nevertheless many instances in which a dog bites a person and an injury occurs as a result. Regardless of the type of attack, who is to blame for damage done? 

Unfortunately, some breeds have a somewhat negative reputation across the United States. New Jersey News reported on a particularly vicious dog attack, in which a Pit Bull and Rottweiler escaped their apartment home and attacked a passerby on the street. The man fought the dogs for nearly an hour before police arrived on the scene, and the victim received one of the largest dog bite settlements in the history of the state. New Jersey News goes on to state that recent laws are more sympathetic to dog bite victims, wherein victims have strict liability and owners take responsibility for damage. The report also shows that in New Jersey, landlords can also be held liable if they fail to warn those inside the building that dangerous dogs are present.

Dog bites in America are no new occurrence, but many stress the importance of canine education and attack prevention to resolve the issue. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals points toward many factors that can make a dog more likely to bite. In fact, the ASPCA opposes many of the breed-specific bans in some states, claiming that many of these bans are a result of negative media portrayals of certain breeds and overall lack of evidence. Instead, the organization proposes new routes to handling dog attacks, including examining heredity, early experience, socialization and training, sex and reproductive status. Through a nature versus nurture lens, many organizations such as the ASPCA side with both victims and dogs, and hope to resolve the widespread issue by bettering education on these beloved furry friends. 

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