Judge Calls Dog Bite Minor, Child’s Ear Severed

Posted July 23, 2010 in Personal & Home Safety by Arthur Buono

Severed ear: minor. Prized pedigree pooch: priceless. A New Jersey Judge has refused to order a dog that bit off a child’s ear put down. The ruling came in an animal control case in New Jersey. The judge ruled that despite what he called a serious injury the animal was not vicious.

  • Dog bites most common animal-related injury
  • "One bite" rule often applicable to dogs
  • Homeowner’s insurance excludes coverage for some dog breeds


Owner’s Dogs Bit Before, Civil Suit Next

The attack occurred while the child and her mother were visiting the dog’s owner. The judge called the injury serious, but the attack minor. He said the dog nipped the tot’s ear, which tore off when she fell to the ground. While declining to order the dog put down, the judge did order the owner to keep the dog muzzled when in public. The owner, a surgeon, has a prior history of dog trouble. Another of his dogs was involved in a series of attacks in 2002.

The parents of the child have said they will sue the owner civilly. State law governs liability for dog bites. Many states follow the so-called "one bite" rule. If your dog has never bitten anyone before, you generally will not be liable the first time it does. Some cities and counties have banned possession of certain breeds of dogs. The one bite rule would not apply to persons owning these breeds despite the ban.

Homeowner’s insurance usually provides coverage for dog bites. Many insurers exclude this coverage for certain breeds of dogs thought to be dangerous. Some insurers won’t issue a homeowner’s policy at all to persons owning these breeds. You should check with your insurance company before acquiring any dog you think might be considered a dangerous breed.

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