On July 24. 2019 an appellate court agreed that the owner of a guard dog (who had never bitten anyone before) that lacerated the face of an 11 year old boy must stand trial. There was no proof that the dog had ever bitten anyone or acted aggressively so the owner filed a pre-trial motion to dismiss arguing that the plaintiff could not prove that: 1) the dog had "vicious propensities"; and, 2) that the owner knew or should have known of such propensities." However, the Court explained that the law is not that simple.
The plaintiff showed that the dog was maintained as a guard dog, that the attack was unprovoked and that the dog would not let go of the boy's face until another boy pried the dog's mouth open. The facial lacerations were so severe that surgery was required and the boy was left with multiple scars. The Court explained that even if this was the first time the dog attacked someone, "knowledge of an animal's vicious propensities may also be discerned, by a jury, from the nature and result of the attack." A jury could find in favor of the boy considering such factors as: "the dog's tendency to growl or snap or bare its teeth, the manner in which the dog was restrained, the fact that the dog was kept as a guard dog, and a proclivity to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm". I.A. v Mejia, Sup. Ct. Suffolk County, Index No. 22947/14