New Hampshire Dog Law

Liability Statute

Any person who is injured by another person’s dog is entitled to recover damages from the dog’s owner, keeper, or possessor, unless the injury occurred when the injured person was trespassing or committing some other tort. This statute imposes strict liability and does not require proof of negligence. A parent or guardian is liable for damages if the dog’s owner or keeper is a minor. Additionally, the statute makes a dog owner strictly liable for harm caused by a dog's "vicious or mischievous acts," even if it is not a bite. It can be anything which causes injury, such as frightening the victim and making him "flip" his bicycle.

Dogs as a Menace, a Nuisance or Vicious

Under this statute, a dog is a menace, nuisance, or vicious if:

  • when not engaged in legal hunting or herding, it is running at large and not under the control of any person;
  • it barks for continuous periods of more than 30 minutes during the nighttime hours;
  • it digs, scratches, excretes, or scatters waste or garbage on someone else’s property;
  • it is female and permitted to run at large while in heat;
  • it growls, snaps at, runs after, or chases a person;
  • it runs after, or chases bicycles, cars, motorcycles, or other vehicles on public roadways; or
  • whether alone or in a pack with other dogs, it bites, attacks, or preys on game animals, domestic animals, fowl, or people.

Liability of Dog Owners

If a dog is declared to be a menace, a nuisance, or vicious, and the owner fails to abate, or stop, the behavior, or when the owner fails to comply with any local dog laws, the dog can be taken into custody and, depending on the violation, the owner is subject to a fine ranging from $25 to $400.

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