What is the Definition of a Domestic Dog?

Were you the victim of a terrifying dog attack? While most domesticated dogs are docile and fairly harmless, when a vicious dog bites, the results can be catastrophic. But how exactly does New Jersey define a “domestic “animal? If you were seriously injured by a dog bite and you want to pursue legal action, it’s helpful to understand legal definitions of related terms. Our NJ dog bite lawyers explain some basic legal terms for you.

NJ dog bite law basics and definitions

Basically, the owner of a dog is to be held accountable if the dog attacks a person. This is true even if the dog has no prior history of attacks, or the owner’s knowledge of such attacks.

Here are some helpful definitions when determining if you have a lawsuit:

  • “Domesticated animal” means a dog, cat, bird, fish or other animal which does not constitute a health or safety hazard.
  • “Domestic animal” means any cat, dog, or livestock other than poultry.
  • “Potentially dangerous dog” means any dog or dog hybrid declared potentially dangerous by a municipal court pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1989, c. 307 (C. 4:19-23).
  • “Vicious dog” means any dog or dog hybrid declared vicious by a municipal court pursuant to ` section 6 of P.L.1989, c. 307 (C. 4:19-22).

New Jersey animal laws do not define what constitutes a “wild” animal. But, one can infer that a “wild” animal is one that is not attached to an owner.

What is an “owner” for purposes of the Dog Bite Statute?

Under N.J.S.A. § 4:19-16, “owner” is not defined. For this reason, courts have developed case law to define who is an owner. Typically, the owner is the person in charge of the dog. This includes the person who bought, adopted, and/or registered the animal, or the person who was charged with caring for the dog. Pippin v. Fink, 350 N.J. Super. 270, 794 A.2d 893 (App. Div. 2002), the court ruled that an “owner” is a person who holds themselves out to the world as such and enjoys the benefits and burdens of having the dog.

Landlords who own property where dogs reside, but are not in charge of the dogs, are generally not held liable under New Jersey case law.

Our personal injury law firm keep flexible office hours, with weekend appointments available, and we can meet you in your home or hospital room if you cannot travel to our office. Call us today, or contact us online, we’re standing by to assist you at (908) 561-5577.

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