Keeping Up-to-Date with Changing Dog Bite Laws

Whether you’re a New York City veterinarian, the manager of a pet shop, or just a garden variety dog owner, it is vital to keep abreast of your local dog bite laws. These laws are in constant flux and are often changed, updated, and rewritten without much public fanfare. In the event of personal injury, the fine print can loom suddenly large, and awareness is the key to protecting yourself against litigation.

Understanding NY’s Dog Bite Accusations

In New York, there are two breeds of dog bite accusations: strict liability and negligence-based.

In the event that the victim of a dog bite sustains injuries which require treatment, the owner of a “dangerous dog” is on the hook for the victim’s medical bills. This is what is meant by strict liability. Strict liability extends to any livestock or companion animals that may have been injured in the attack. Per New York City’s dog bite statute, a dangerous dog is defined as one which:

  • attacks and injures or kills a person, farm animal, or pet without justification, or
  • behaves in a way that would make a reasonable person believe the dog poses “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”

Non-medical costs (property damage, et al) related to a dog bite fall under the umbrella of negligence. If a dog’s owner is accused of negligence, the prosecution will have to prove that the owner was careless in restraining the dog or warning others about the dog’s dangerous behavior. Often referred to as the “one bite rule,” negligence comes into effect if a dog behaves violently on one occasion and, in the aftermath, its owner does not make give appropriate warning to those who might come in contact with the dog.

When Can A Lawsuit Be Filed?

Claims and civil lawsuits can be filed within three years of the initial bite. With this in mind, it is especially important to keep up-to-date with the laws as they change, and also to consider the types of defense you can mount in order to protect you and your dog. The key is to spare your dog the “dangerous” label, and that can be avoided by advancing one or more of the following defenses.

In the event that the victim was trespassing on your property, it is possible to assert that the dog was protecting your property against an intruder. If there is any evidence or suggestion that the victim was tormenting or threatening the dog, a defense can be made that the dog was provoked but is not otherwise dangerous. Should the dog have been in pain or discomfort at the time of the attack, or if it was protecting its owner, family, or young, this is a valid defense that would challenge the “dangerous dog” label and open a new avenue for contesting the initial charges.

Bear in mind that dog bite laws apply not only to bites but, also to any other dog-related injuries resulting from the attack. It is also important to consider that a dog needn’t physically bite for it to be eligible for “one bite” status. It is sufficient that a dog might be dangerous. If this is suspected by the owner, or if it is a reasonable assumption given the dog’s size and breed, then the onus is on the owner to caution anyone who may come in contact with the dog.

Get Legal Help To Interpret The Law

New York City law allows victims to cast a surprisingly wide net with their accusations. If you are unsure of which defense to employ, consult a personal injury lawyer with expertise in the field. Though the scales may seem tilted in favor of the accuser, New York City law does take pains to protect citizens against trespassers. In general, property owners are not held to account for any injuries that a trespasser may sustain on private property, whether from the property owner or his or her dog.

Because these laws change often, and also due to the many nuances of the interpretation of each law, it is vital to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer so as to mount the most thorough and most effective defense.


Author Bio:

Tom Moverman established the Lipsig Queens Law Firm with Harry Lipsig and his partners in 1989; The firm’s focus is in personal injury, construction accidents, car accidents, products liability, and medical malpractice.

July 4th Fireworks – Not So Paw-Friendly

Our most patriotic Holiday -4th of July- can potentially be one of the most stressful and dangerous days of the year for our furry friends. While we are celebrating with our family, friends, and neighbors this holiday with fireworks, our cats and dogs may find these festive activities anything but amusing.

Many of us assume that if our pet is not afraid of thunder or other loud noises, fireworks will not bother him or her either, but this is not necessarily true. Even pets who are normally not affected by loud noises, natural or otherwise, are often frightened and panicked by the cumulative effects of fireworks, as well as the audible excitement around the house when they are left alone inside our home.

Unattended pets are often driven to anxiety and seeking escape from the noise. Eventually, they may succeed in finding a way out and they run away. In fact, according to the ASPC, “the July 4th holiday is a very busy time for animal shelters across the U.S. They report taking in a higher number dogs that run off during firework festivities. In addition, many police stations log higher volumes of stray dog calls and barking complaints on July 4th compared to any other day of the year.”

So, let’s plan ahead and take some common sense precautions in order to ensure that our pets have a happy, safe, and healthy 4th of July.

  • Do not take your pet to fireworks displays, and keep them away from 4th of July picnics, parades, and other festivities.
  • Never leave your pet alone in the car. The hot air inside a vehicle to quickly lead to breathing difficulties, overheating and your pet can suffer serious health effects even death in a few short minutes, potentially leading to death.
  • It is never a good idea to leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. Anxiety can lead to irrational behavior, and pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.
  • We may not think about it every day, but it is imperative that our pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned to us as quickly as possible. While cats and dog found roaming around should be taken to the local animal shelter for the best chance of being reunited with their owners, it may also be a good idea to check with your local pet supply stores, groomers and vets. Very often dogs are recognized by local shop keepers and neighbors,  or checked for microchips, and our poor, lost souls don’t have to go through the additional trauma of being caught and sheltered.
  • Keep your pets at home in a comfortable and quiet area with the shades drawn. If your dog is crate trained, then their little “cave” is a great choice for safety and comfort. You may even cover the top and sides with a blanket for that extra feeling of security.  And while you are at it, throw in one of Fido’s favorite toys, or a T-shirt belonging to mom or dad. This suggestive closeness will definitely help your dog feeling safe.
  • If you know that your dog or cat becomes destructive when frightened, so be sure to remove any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leaving a TV or radio playing at normal volume can help your pet feeling like there is company in the house. In serious cases it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before this noisy Holiday, or to hire a pet sitter, or even send your pet to camp for the night to help alleviate the fear and anxiety they will experience during those noisy fireworks.

So, here is to a happy and safe Independence Day for all of, including our pets. Woof!

How to Prepare Your Home for a Rescue or Foster Dog

According to the ASPCA, an estimated 6.5 million animals enter shelters across the United States every year; approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. They also estimate that 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, while 3.2 million are adopted per year. Obviously, there is a tremendous need for people to adopt shelter animals or to provide foster homes for animals that need extra love and attention or a reprieve from a shelter than euthanizes animals. If you have decided that you are ready to accept a rescue or foster dog into your home, there are a few steps you should take to make your space animal-friendly.

  1. Approach Home Preparation as Though You are Baby-Proofing

Just like babies, dogs and cats can be very curious. The difference is, cats and dogs can jump onto surfaces and fit into small spaces, so you want to protect your animal and your belongings by approaching animal-proofing as though you are baby-proofing your entire house. If you are going to contain your rescue or foster dog to a particular area, focus on that vicinity first while keeping in mind that the animal could jump over an indoor fence or break free of a crate and have access to your whole home. That’s why you should look for small objects that pose a danger – such as pins, needles, thread, string, rubber bands, moth balls, cleaning supplies, medication, etc. – throughout your home. Also take care to block or cover electrical cords, television cords, and curtain cords. Get down on your hands and knees to get an animal view of your home and see whether you have missed anything.

Another way to prepare your home is to consider kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms as danger areas. Keep cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, medications, lotions, and other hazards on high shelves or in cabinets with childproof latches. Cover all trash cans and place them inside locked closets or cabinets if possible. Keep toilets, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers closed at all times. Look for small spaces between cabinets and appliances or behind washers and dryers into which your pet could squeeze to hide; if you find some, block them to prevent access.

  1. Check Your Houseplants

Some people move all of their houseplants to a higher level simply because they don’t want their rescue or foster dog to become tempted by the dirt. Others move them off the floor because they don’t want their dog to lift his leg on them. However, the first thing you should do is check to see whether your houseplants are poisonous to dogs. Unfortunately, more than 700 plants contain toxins that harm cats and dogs that ingest them.

Common houseplants that are toxic to plants include, but are not limited to

  • Asparagus fern
  • Corn plants
  • Dieffenbachia/Dumb cane/Tropic snow/Exotica
  • Elephant ear/Caladium/Malanga
  • Lilies including Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, and Peace lilies
  • Cyclamen/Sowbread
  • Heartleaf philodendron/Panda plant
  • Jade plants/Chinese rubber plants
  • Aloe plants
  • Satin Pothos/Silk Pothos
  • Poinsettia

It’s worth noting that several outdoor plants also are poisonous to dogs. If you are planning to leave your dog outside in a fenced-in area or on a run, you should move these plants to another part of your yard that your dog cannot access. Among the most poisonous outdoor plants are azalea, amaryllis, carnations, daffodils, hasta, gladiola, ivy, milkweed, morning glory, sago palm, tomato plants, tulips, and yew.

  1. Prepare Yourself and Your Family

Of course, when you adopt a rescue dog or agree to welcome a foster dog into your home, it is not just the physical space that you need to ready for his arrival. You also need to ready yourself and your family for a new pet, and you will need to help him adjust and settle in by speaking quietly and letting him explore when he first arrives. You will need to be prepared to teach him some house manners and work on behavior issues such as barking, destructive chewing, territory marking, separation anxiety, and leash pulling. Educating yourself about being new dog parents or a new dog family is a great first step to preparing yourself and your family, and you can find more information on becoming an effective, loving pet owner on

You will successfully adopt a rescue dog or house a foster dog by preparing your home for his arrival. Begin by animal-proofing the home as you would child-proof for the arrival of a toddler, removing toxic houseplants and outdoor plants, and preparing yourself and your family for helping the dog make a successful transition into your home and your lives.

Author: Guest Writer Jessica Brody

Imagae via Pixabay by Lepale

animal rights awareness week!







Perhaps the famous German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said it best when he said:

The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

The week of June 17th marks the eighteenth Animal Rights Awareness Week (ARAW), which was called into life by the California animal rights group, In Defense of Animals.

ARAW is designated as celebration of our synergistic relationship with animals and to educate people about means to bring more awareness and compassion into our world.

It can no longer be denied that animal rights and human rights are complementary, not contradictory.

I do not begrudge anyone buying their puppy or kitty from a store for the simple reason that these pets need a home, too. But the sad truth behind that type of spontaneous purchase is that it has far reaching ramifications.

Excepting ethical, and regulated breeders, it is a fact that “pet stores” perpetuate an evil sequence of cruelty, suffering and slaughter; and the buying and selling of animals solely to amass profits is not only ethically wrong but it supports the puppy mill and backyard breeder’s assembly line of production.

Today, only a handful of States have some sort of anti animal-cruelty or anti puppy-mill legislation, but that’s just not enough.

As long as politicians like New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, decline the regulation of animal cruelty, the toxic status quo continues to spread, and endangers more animal lives.

Every person I know treats their own pets with kindness, love and compassion. In other words, they already view Fido or Kitty as “family” and treat them with the same tenderness as human children. Sadly, many people are still not aware of the conditions in puppy mills, pet shops, some shelters, labs, zoos and circuses.

Animals are not mere commodities to be bought, sold and discarded on whim.

As long as we view animals as our personal property this vicious cycle cannot be broken. But a small adjustment in our thinking that animals are commodities might help raise awareness and compassion.

We are not their owners; we are their caregivers, companions and guardians! Or have you ever met a mother claiming her child to be her property?

This simple change of mind can greatly benefit animals. It can potentially lead to an increase of shelter adoptions, fewer abandonings, and people might develop a deeper sense of respect and compassion for companion animals that are now part of their families.

Collectively, we must make it our goal to work toward elevating the status of animals as well as to help increase today’s animal protection movement.

We should spend more time evaluating the relationship with our own furry friend, and then use our compassion to convince others of the fact that animals enrich our lives in countless ways, and, subsequently, persuade humanity that kindness and respect is due to all sentient creatures.

T.R. Firrigno

If disaster strikes, are you prepared?

dog-emergencySeptember is “National Preparedness Month”

For many of us pet parents our cats and dogs, and other critters are members of our families. We care for them, we love them, and we ensure their comfort, safety and wellbeing.

Surprisingly, a local poll shows that many people do not have emergency preparedness plans –for themselves or for their pets.

Don’t get caught in a traumatic event without being prepared: Make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your family and for your pets.

There are simple steps we can take to facilitate an orderly rescue of our pets in need. From getting Rescue Alert Stickers 51guee790wlthat indicate the types and number of pets in your household and your veterinarian’s phone number, over choosing “Designated Caregivers” (e.g. friends outside the danger zone, boarding, dog walkers, et), to helping emergency workers help our pets.

Government agency FEMA as well as the CDC, the Red Cross, and the ASPCA have recommendations for Pet and Animal Emergency Planning. Simply typing “pet emergency planning” into your browser’s search bar will present many different valuable resources that ultimately may help save your pet’s life.


Spring Safety Tips for Pets

Woo-Wee-Woo, it’s spring time!!!

Woo Hoo, it's spring!

For our humans this is the time for spring-cleaning and BBQs, and for us canines this means O.U.T.D.O.O.R. time!!!  We get to play outside, sniff all the other doggie butts at the dog park, go on walks with our owners, play fetch, run, chase squirrels … oh, my, the list is long!

Yes, yes, yes, we’re super excited.  But it’s also super important that our parents’ take a number of precautions to make sure we’re happy and healthy this spring.

Check out these tips on how we can keep our best friends safe, healthy, happy and most importantly, keep their tails waggin’ with joy!










Hello, my name is…

It’s a great idea to equip me with proper identification before letting me run under the open sky.

I might be so excited to run around that I may end up chasing a squirrel or bunny, and suddenly run away from you or lose my way.  Just place a visible ID tag on my collar with your information.  This way, you can be sure that your squirrel-happy pup will be returned home.  Trust me, I don’t like to be away from my humans; I don’t like it one bit!



Fleas and ticks and critters… oh my!

My humans use flea and tick prevention for me year-round.  But it is especially important to use prevention during spring and summer when those creepy crawlers are particularly active, because those nasty critters can cause Lyme disease in dogs.  And let’s face it; flea infestations are no fun for anyone.  So, just tell your human that it’s best to prevent fleas and ticks before they happen.  Our parents can also help us by flea-combing our coats regularly, and by vacuuming frequently and disposing of the bags immediately after use.  And if you are lucky to have a grassy yard, tell your parent to please mow the lawn.



Too cool for school…

Temperatures will be rising soon and humans have got to keep us cool. When we are outside on hot days, our temperatures rise higher than that of our parents because they don’t have a furry coat, an under-coat or fluffy hair.  So, it’s best they take us out for a walk or a run in the park when the sun is setting.  And if we are on a play date, they should make sure that there is always a shady retreat and plenty of water available.  Cuz’, slurp, we get thirsty, too.

You know we need water, if we are panting and have our tongues hanging out; that’s doggie code for “I’m thirsty, dude”.  And N.E.V.E.R., E.V.E.R., leave us in the car. You know some of us just love to go on rides with our humans, but only when they’re in the car with us. Even on a 60-degree day, temperatures can rise to 100 degrees inside a car.  Believe you me, it’s like a sauna, and it’s very stressful on us furballs.  When you realize that we are worn out and hot after chasing our best friends, please bring us inside and place a cool towel over the top of our neck, it does help.  Even better yet, just put a cooling bandana around our neck before you take us places.  That will help a lot, too.


You remember those cheapo popsicles from the supermarket?  Tell your parents to buy them and suck them to cool themselves off.  Then, ask them to wash them out, fill them with our favorite doggie-safe broth (juice) and freeze them, and voilà, we have a pup-sicle 🙂



Born to run…

If Fido has been a couch potato all winter, then it’s a good idea to get her back into outdoor activity gradually. Just like our humans, exercising and building up muscles slowly will help prevent injuries. Before we can go running with you, you have to make sure that we can at least walk 30 to 60 minutes alongside your stride without getting tired.  Tell mom and dad to consider your individual personality and fitness level. If you are pleasantly plump, have joint problems or are on your way to becoming a senior, it won’t hurt to get a quick warm up.  My humans let me sniff and waddle at my own pace for about 10 minutes before they get me to strut my stuff.

Your humans can play fetch with you for a few minutes to get some of that emerging energy out by throwing the ball or Frisbee and letting you sprint after it.  But tell them to only do this for a few minutes so they don’t wear you out completely.



Scratch n’ sniff…

When it comes to allergies, dogs tend to have similar allergy symptoms as their humans. Fore example, grass and tree pollen may cause a dog to sneeze and have watery eyes- just like humans.

And a pup may develop itchy paws, too, which can cause us to lick, nibble and bite on them. This constant scratching, of course, may lead to open sores, raised welts and loss of hair.  So, tell your parents to do what they can to reduce the amount of allergens in the house by vacuuming carpets and sweeping floors often.  And they should pay special attention to your favorite spots in the house such as under beds, on the couch or near windows, maybe, and tell them to clean (vacuum or wash) window treatments regularly.  And lets not forget our bedding, which needs to be washed regularly using a gentle detergent that is free of dyes or perfumes.  It may also help for your humans to limit your outdoor time and activities during allergy season.  They can take you out or let you go potty when it’s less windy, or before they mow the lawn.

Now, there it is, my fine, furry friends.  With a little bit of effort and preparation your humans can almost guarantee you a happy, healthy and playful spring.

Happy sneezin’!




Gobble – Gobble – Gobble…Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips


The holiday season begins with Thanks giving and can be fun for the whole family.

Ovens are working overtime and delicious holiday aromas fill the air, and during this happy time we sometimes tend to become overly generous with our furry friends. This means that often they will “benefit” from table food scraps.  Sometimes, however, too many treats can lead to injury or illness for our pets, and we need to ensure that we keep the “Happy” in Thanksgiving, and avoid a trip to the vet!

NO to Fat: Fatty or rich foods (e.g. beef fat, poultry skin,  gravy, etc.) can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas
  • Pancreatitis[1]

We are better off feeding a few small bites of lean poultry or unsalted/-unbuttered veggies as a treat.

NO to Chocolate: Remember all the chocolaty goodies offered over Thanksgiving (and other holidays).  Chocolate is super dangerous for our furry friends, especially, because it contains theobromine[2]. Dogs are not able to metabolize theobromine as quickly as humans, and the following can occur:

  • Digestive issues
  • Dehydration
  • Excitability
  • Slow heart rate

YES to Green Beans: Plain, cooked green beans are a wonderful treat for our dogs, and fresh veggies are a great addition to their diet. But beware of our famous green bean casserole, because it contains other ingredients that are bad for our pets.

NO to Xylitol: While we may be making a healthier choice by cooking/ baking with artificial sweeteners, they contain Xylitol, which is poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.

YES to Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry sauce is just fine for dogs but be cognizant of the amount of sugar and acid in it. It’s probably best to only put a small helping on your dog’s plate.

YES to Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes are a great, filling vegetable to share with our dogs. However, even though potatoes themselves are not harmful to dogs, be aware of other ingredients that may be in our mashed potatoes -cheese, sour cream, butter, onions, and gravies are no-no’s in a dog’s diet.

YES to Turkey: Turkey is a great lean protein to share with our pets. We just need to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat (best to stick with white meat, too) and make sure there are no bones.

YES to Exercise:  Our pet’s meal and exercise schedules are important, and a disruption in their dietary routine can cause stomach upset, diarrhea and/ or vomiting.

NO to Bones:  Make no bones about it. Certain bones can lacerate/ obstruct our pets’ intestines.  So, save the bones for the turkey soup -not your dog.

NO to Onions:  Onions (onion powder, too) are widely found in stuffing and used as a general seasoning.  Those, however, will destroy our dog or cat’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

NO to Grapes and Raisins:  Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage to both dogs and cats.

NO to Food Wrappings:  Aluminum foil, wax paper and other food wrappings can cause intestinal obstruction. We have to make sure to place these items securely in the garbage.

NO to Garbage:  Keep an eye on the garbage and keep it securely fastened! If our dogs get into it, they may think “jackpot”, but all they’ll be winning is health problems from something as simple as gastric disturbance, vomiting and diarrhea to the worst-case scenario – death. Yikes!

YES to Fresh Water:  We have to make sure our pets always have fresh water. When there are more people in the house, there are more chances to bump into the water bowl leaving our pets dry and thirsty –not good, especially, when being “spoiled” under the table with stuff they shouldn’t be eating in the first place.

YES to Quiet Time:  We have to make sure our pets have a quiet retreat, because sometimes festivities can be too much for them.  It’s a good idea to observe their behavior to ensure they are not stressed.

So, gobble – gobble – gobble… Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, y’all!


[1] Pancreatitis is a severe inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that produces digestive enzymes. On the mild side, pancreatitis can cause vomiting and a decrease in appetite, but can potentially be fatal.

[2] Caffeine-like ingredient that can be toxic to our pets; ater stages of theobromine poisoning include epileptic-like seizures and pet death. Keep your pets away from dark, semi-sweet and baker’s chocolate because they contain higher levels of theobromine.