Bandaged hand with injury on palm from a dog bite in manchester nh.

Tips for Dog Owners

Every year, almost 5 million people are bitten by dogs….and most of those bitten are children, followed by senior citizens. Preventing dog bites is everyone’s responsibility, and simple measures can be very effective.

Be aware of the fact that any dog can bite. From the smallest to the largest, even the friendliest, cute and easy-going dogs might bite if provoked. The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog known to the person—his or her own pet, a neighbor’s or a friend’s.

It has long been considered that dogs are a man’s best friend. This has led to the trend of dogs being considered friendly loving members of the family. According to an article presented in May 2016 by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) titled ‘Dog Bit Liability’, it is estimated that about 77.8 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States according to a 2015/2016 survey carried out by the American Products Association. It is also estimated that about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year with about 885,000 requiring medical attention for these injuries half of which are estimated to be children, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2011, it was estimated that dog bites accounted for over one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims costing up to about $479 million with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, the largest writer of homeowners’ insurance in the U.S., paying out more than $109 million as a result of its nearly 3,800 dog bite claims in 2011 alone.

It is therefore the owner’s responsibility to make sure they are capable of training and controlling their dogs. Dog owners should also be aware that they are solely responsible for the actions of their dogs and are subject to liabilities in the event of any attacks, bites or damage of property. In most states in the U.S., dog owners are free of liabilities resulting from losses incurred by trespassers attacked and injured by dogs.

New Hampshire’s “strict liability” dog bite law holds dog owners responsible for injuries their dogs inflict in a wide range of situations. The law pertaining to canine-inflicted injuries that is more favorable to victims than most other states. It covers any cause of damage by a dog, and applies to injuries to not only humans but also any form of property, including another dog or cat.

To help protect yourself from all liabilities resulting from dog ownership, it is essential for dog owners to take the necessary precautions as a measure to ensure additional costs are not incurred in the future. The ASPA has safety tips for both parents and for pet parents and the DMVA also has useful information.

Apart from taking these precautions, it is also recommended that dog owners ensure they have vaccinated their dogs, have a rabies certificate, and are registered as dog owners are required by New Hampshire law.

466:1-a Vaccination Required.
Before a license is issued under the provisions of this subdivision, the owner or keeper of a dog shall furnish to the clerk verification from a licensed veterinarian that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the provisions of RSA 436. Persons applying for a group license under RSA 466:6 shall also furnish to the clerk verification from a licensed veterinarian that the dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in accordance with RSA 436.

Notwithstanding paragraph I, if a valid rabies certificate is on file with the clerk in accordance with RSA 436:102, the owner shall not be required to produce such verification at time of licensure.

466:1-b Rabies Certificate.
Upon receipt of a copy of a rabies certificate from a veterinarian pursuant to RSA 436:102, the clerk of the town or city shall send written notice to the owner or keeper of any unlicensed dog relative to the licensing requirements provided for in RSA 466:1. If the owner or keeper of the unlicensed dog fails to license the dog in a timely manner, the town or city clerk shall notify the local law enforcement officer of a violation of RSA 466:1.

466:1-d Lists of Licensed Dog Owners.
Except as provided in paragraphs II and III and RSA 466:11 and RSA 466:14, no dog registration records, information, or lists shall be sold, rented, transferred, or otherwise made available in whole or in part, in any form or format, directly or indirectly, to another person.
Dog registration records, information, or lists may be made available pursuant to a court order or in response to a request from the state, a political subdivision of the state, the federal government, or a law enforcement agency solely for use in official business. The request shall be on a case-by-case basis. Any information, record, or list received pursuant to this paragraph shall not be further transferred or otherwise made available to any other person or listed entity not authorized under this paragraph, except as provided in RSA 466:13.
Without otherwise compromising the confidentiality of the files, nothing in this section shall prohibit a body or agency from releasing information relative to health or safety from investigative files on a limited basis to persons whose health or safety may be affected, or to a person or agency attempting to provide for the welfare of an animal.