Sunday, June 14, 2015

More on One Free Bite Rule

The other day we blogged that the Court of Appeals had once again affirmed New York's "one free bite" rule.  Amid news reports that the Legislature is considering various dog legislation, including one bill that would allow dogs in outdoor areas of restaurants, we checked to see if any pending legislation would overturn this foolish rule. S02494, introduced last January would do so partially, making dog owners strictly liable for medical expenses resulting from a dog bite.  The legislation is currently stuck in the Judiciary Committee.  Other bills would increase penalties on owners who "negligently" allowed a dog to bite another person.  What is needed is legislation that specifically says, if your dog is off-leash and that is not allowed, you are strictly liable for any injury that dog causes, not only medical expenses.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Signs say that all dogs must be leashed.   In about 3 hours at Rockefeller Preserve today we saw four that weren't, including one swimming in Swan Lake as the owner stood by.





Tuesday, June 9, 2015

NY High Court Holds Bicyclist Can't Sue Dog Owner for Injuries

The New York Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, has ruled that a bicyclist injured by a dog crossing his path in Central Park has no right of action against the dog owner.  This is true even though the dog had no business in the roadway.  The cases are Doer v. Goldsmith and Dobinski v. Lockhart.

Here is the link to the full decision, including concurrences and dissents.  http://courts.state.ny.us/ctapps/Decisions/2015/Jun15/17-66mem15-Decision.pdf  The problem is that New York follows the rule that there's no claim against the dog owner for injuries the dog causes unless the dog has been shown to have "vicious propensities", meaning it's bitten someone before.  This decision cites case law holding that the owner's violation of the local leash law makes no difference--which is different from the usual rule, that if you injure someone in the process of breaking the law (speeding, for example), that's negligence per se.  What someone needs to do is get the state legislature to overturn this rule legislatively.  Particularly with the clowns we have in charge in Albany, that's not going to happen any time soon unless one of them, or their family members (or wealthy contributors), gets bitten during dog hours.  Until then, the best advice is to stay away from New York City parks during that time or anywhere near it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Unleashed Dog Bites Walker on Forest Park Bridle Path

April 10, according to an April 16, 2015 letter to the editor in the Queens Chronicle.  But the dog didn't belong on the bridle path at all, leashed or unleashed.  Even FIDO knows that.

The applicable regulation is buried here and no, the "Commissioner" hasn't permitted leashed dogs to be on bridle paths.

This letter absolutely must be the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unleashed Dog Knocks Over 65-year-old Woman in Prospect



 Writer's name deleted

Subject: Off-leash dog incident--for Sue Donoghue

Date: February 24, 2015 10:13:16 AM EST


Dear Ms. Donoghue:

A birder friend suggested I write to you, plus I spoke to a member of your staff yesterday  by phone.

I am 65 years old, a Prospect Park Alliance member, a long-time park user, park volunteer, avid birder and affiliate of the Brooklyn Bird Club.

On Sunday I was on the terrace bridge, birding, when three medium-sized dogs, off leash, began rough housing with each other. When one of the dogs left, the other two continued to rough house. I was at the edge of the bridge, when they first bumped into me. When I decided to walk to the bird feeders, they continued to rough house. I tried to avoid them by standing way to the other side of the bridge. Although they had the entire bridge on which to play, they inexorably moved towards me and banged into my legs, this time causing me to fall and bang my hip. I am sure you are aware how dangerous a hip injury is, especially for older people.

I yelled to the owners who were all the way down at the other end of the bridge, not paying attention to their dogs. The man came over and helped me up and apologized. I was very upset and scared and continued to yell at him, since his apology and desire to help meant nothing after the fact. The fact was that this incident would not have occurred had he been obeying the rules of the park and had had both dogs on leashes.

At that point, he did put the dogs on the leash, and when I spotted them later, they were still on the leashes. As for me, I came home with a three-inch-long bruise on my hip, which continues to grow, and a sore body.

When I left the park, I spotted two park security guards in a car by the lake and reported the incident.

A birder I met told me to contact you directly because the off-leash dogs have been a big problem in the park for years. He told me that the park has a reputation among the international birding community for being a prime birding spot but also one with a serious dog problem. And this is not the first time I have been accosted by off-leash dogs in the park. Many years ago, I was accosted by an off-leash German shepherd on Lookout Hill. I may also point out that I have never been harrassed by off-leash dogs in Central Park!!

The off-leash dog issue has to be taken more seriously than it seemingly is. Off-leash dogs not only hurt birds and other animals, they can harm the very people who visit and support the park. The park administration has gone out of its way to provide all kinds of "fun" attractions for its visitors: Lakeside, ball fields, wedding venues, food festivals, concerts and barbecue grills. But they also have to provide basic security, not just the fun stuff. Otherwise, people will continue to get hurt in the park they love.

Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dog Bite Claims Rising; What About Off-Leash?

According to this report in Crain's New York Business, "Dog-bite claims for U.S. insurers climbed 5.5% last year to 17,359, breaking the record from 2003, as New York had the costliest attacks among states with the most incidents."  Now, the article doesn't say that claims in New York itself had increased, and says nothing about New York City.  But given the increasing unleashing of dogs nationwide, one wonders how this squares with off-leashers' claims that their pet cause reduce incidents of dog bites.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Forest Hills Dogs

Inconsiderate dog owners hijack another park, this in Forest Hills, Queens.