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

Is it a serious crime to allow a dog to attack?

New Jersey residents come into contact with many dogs, but bites and attacks are relatively rare. However, if you have ever experienced or witnessed a dog go wild, you know that the barrier between the domesticated friend and the vicious animal is not always as sturdy as it seems. Be that as it may, a dog attack might not always lead to you filing a criminal case.

You might wonder if attacks are due to a lapse in judgment on the part of the dog owner, or if there was some malicious intent involved that led the dog to bite— and you would not be alone. It might surprise you to learn, however, that while there are many crimes involving animal care, dogs are not considered to be deadly weapons under the New Jersey statutes. This might make it somewhat difficult to pursue some of the higher criminal sanctions the state has to offer.

Even though the law does not necessarily consider dog bites to be deadly force, you might still be able to hold a negligent owner accountable for the actions of their animal. Dogs could attack you or your child at any time. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control report that children are more likely to be bitten and to sustain serious injuries.

The most that you could do if you were a victim would be to utilize every applicable avenue available under the law to obtain compensation for your injuries. This might also prevent the same horrible experience from happening to other members of your family or community. To do this, you might pursue a civil case or file a police report, or else perform some combination of the two. However, bear in mind that pursuing one solution might limit your ability to remediate your situation with the other option. This is not legal advice, it is only meant to educate.

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