Friday, February 15, 2008
Albany, NY - The case of Scooter the face-biting dog made it to New York State's highest court yesterday, putting at risk the state's venerable "one- bite rule." The Labrador mix caused "disfiguring injuries" when he bit 8-year-old Danielle Bernstein's cheek in 2003. Her parents promptly sued the dog's owner, Juan Abel Mendez, who said the dog had never acted aggressively before.
Yesterday Bernstein's lawyer, James Forde of Manhattan, challenged the so-called "one-bite rule," a 180-year-old body of common law that suggests dog owners are not liable for animal attacks as long as their pets had never behaved viciously in the past.
"It's a misnomer to call it the one-bite rule, but the idea is that unless your dog has done something bad previously, like bite somebody, then there's no liability in the particular instance," said Carol Finocchio, Mendez's Manhattan attorney.Scooter was 6 years old at the time of the attack and had been friendly since Mendez rescued him from a shelter. Mendez thinks Scooter bit Danielle in an attempt to get at the lollipop he said was in the girl's mouth. In the interview, Mendez says, "It was totally out of the blue. Since that day I pretty much keep him off the floor of my stores."
Finocchio said making Mendez liable for Scooter's extraordinary attack could expose dog owners to unprecedented legal risks.
"This would be a huge change in the law," Finocchio said. "Every dog owner in New York State would be subject to liability if the dog bit a child, regardless of whether they knew the dog was inclined to do so."But Forde, noting that the girl needed more than 40 sutures inside and out to rebuild her mouth, said maybe more responsibility is a good idea.
"It's hard to explain to a dog owner in terms they're going to like to hear, but it's a question of who bears the responsibility," Forde said, adding the one-bite rule "unfairly places the risk and responsibility on the victim."Neither side is arguing the victim caused this attack. Danielle stepped into the toy store and found Scooter panting on the floor. After assurances that Scooter was friendly, the girl began to pat and kiss the dog. Without warning, Scooter gave a short growl and then clamped his jaws onto Danielle's face just below her left eye. Adults pulled the girl away from Scooter.
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| 2/16/2008 3:21 AM |
How deplorable you are! Liability laws have been egregious for years. So egregious that people are free to own dangerous dogs without an ounce of oversight. These people get a free human mauling and sometimes 2 or 3.
Current "one-bite-free" laws only encourage irresponsible ownership. Any dog owner whose dog rips off a child's mouth should be held accountable. How else are we going to teach people that dog ownership is serious business?
It was "real wise" of your client to stop keeping her dog in her stores after this terrible incident. Too bad an innocent child had to suffer immeasurable harm for her to "get" this notion.
| 2/16/2008 10:32 AM |
I have a letter in my hand from Hank Greenwood, American Dog Breeders, to our city council. He states that in Prince George County, Maryland it costs $68,000 to maintain a pit bull through some process, I'm assuming a banning process. I could support me and my family for at least three years with that much money. He names at least 10 cities that are considering reppealing their BSL's. He also pulls out the Responsible Dog Owner of Western States Model Dog Regulation, he doesn't add one city that has passed this, not one. I'm no lawyer but this regulation has more holes in it than the victim of a pit bull attack. It is written to protect the dog owner not the human. The letter from Mr. Grenwood closes with "we would like to relay your position on this matter to your constituents." It sounds like this is meant to intimidate.
I have a total of about a dozen lettes form around the country against any BSL, but not one from a person living in our town, not one that has any interest in our town. The letters are written for their own personal reasons. With people like this, it's no wonder we can't get any protection
| 2/17/2008 1:31 PM |
"Finocchio said making Mendez liable for Scooter's extraordinary attack could expose dog owners to unprecedented legal risks."
all of the pit bull owners right now have their fingers on this case. they are secretly cheering for mendez who now "pretty much keeps the dog off the floor of his stores".
| 2/18/2008 1:13 PM |
Getting your dog safety information from the Dog Lobby is like getting Lung Cancer info from the tobacco companies. With no one effectively tracking fatalities and maulings,they thrive in the confusion.
Please post your letters...The public needs to see them.