Hoboken Legal Beagle – 10/14/2008
Today’s (“better late than never”) Beagle segment is about an altercation between two dogs on leashes.
[411 Note: Before we get to the Q&A, there have been a few angry dog attacks in the dog runs the past couple weeks. Seems like at least one of the “offenders” is a grey and white pit bull – just be aware!]
3-legged dog goes haywire on my puppy
“Today as I was walking my dogs, I stopped so they could say hi to another woman’s two dogs – a puggle and a 3-legged dog who looked like a Mastiff.
As Ralphie (my little black 8 month old puppy) and the 3-legged dog were sniffing noses, the dog attacks ralphie, latching onto him, picking him up and shaking him back and forth. Finally he let go. Ralphie was screaming so loudly for about 1 or 2 minutes afterwards and finally once I was able to calm him down a bit, I looked up and realized the other woman was walking away.
Once she was about a block away I yelled “Excuse me I need your phone number” and she just said something along the lines like “My dog never bites”, and asked if mine was okay as she continued to walk away. At that time, I didnt know if Ralphie was okay. A nice gentleman stopped with his two dogs to help me out, and when we tried to get Ralphie to walk, we realized he could not put any pressure at all on his front leg. By this time the woman was long gone. I would think that any responsible individual would exchange phone numbers or at least go put the dogs away and come back to help me. And I would at least offer to help out with the vet bills if my dog ever hurt another dog like this woman’s dog did.
I’m not mad at her dog, I understand dog’s can act out for no reason apparent to humans, but her actions (or lack thereof) are what need addressing. I didn’t get her name or phone number or anything before she took off, but Hoboken is a small town, and it’s pretty impossible to hide when you are walking a huge 3-legged dog. I’m not worried about finding her. What sort of legal ramifications can I take once I track her down?“
Hoboken411 Legal Beagle says:
You could file a complaint with the Hoboken City Court and ask that the Dog be considered potentially dangerous under NJS 4:19-23 which would at least put it on record that the dog may be dangerous. That law…
“requires the municipal court to declare a dog to be potentially dangerous if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dog seriously injures another domestic animal and poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person or poses a threat of death to another domestic animal. But a dog shall not be declared potentially dangerous by a municipal court for seriously injuring a domestic…”
Of course you could try and sue the lady for any damages you sustained such as veterinarian bills, but you would not be able to recover for your own emotional distress for dealing with this situation. Unless the injury to your dog was serious, I dont think you will get satisfaction from either course of action. However, if your dog were seriously injured you should call the police to make a report, call the health department to report the dog and file a small claims complaint against the owner.
The law is clear that a person is responsible for the actions of their dogs but damages are limited to actual costs since a dog is considered property, and, as such, damages are limited to actual out of pocket expenses and nothing for the pain and suffering of the animal.