Dangerous dog laws already exist in New Jersey, but a new ordinance requiring muzzles and stricter licensing laws for pit bulls has been presented in Garfield. Should this ordinance pass, owners of pit bulls will have to keep their dogs leashed and muzzled when out in public, and they will have to purchase $50,000 in liability insurance or bond to cover potential damages and injuries. The ordinance will cover pure bred pit bulls as well as mixed-breed dogs that have predominant pit bull characteristics.
Many pit bull advocates across New Jersey are angered by the proposed ordinance and insist that the public would be better served by enforcing existing dangerous dog laws rather than introducing new ones. The opposition to the ordinance might stop it in its tracks, especially if it becomes organized.
The ordinance also faces opposition from attorney Rachel Castelino, who maintains that New Jersey recognizes only dangerous dog laws enacted by the state, and not those enacted on a local level. Furthermore, the wording of the ordinance seems to invite ambiguity. It will be difficult for owners and government officials to determine the precise breeding of a pit bull mix, and to know where to draw the line. If this ordinance does not pass, New Jersey will need to determine the best course of action to protect the public.
It is true that many pit bull accidents and injuries could be avoided if owners and handlers were more responsible. Taking a pit bull outside without a leash or failing to restrain the dog when strangers are visiting simply invites problems, something that is true for all dangerous dog breeds.
If you have been bitten by a dog or if your property has been damaged by one, it is important to seek medical attention and legal counsel immediately. Medical bills can add up quickly in these cases; reliable representation is a must.