HomeBehavior & trainingWhat Is the One-Bite Rule?

What Is the One-Bite Rule?

by Adopt a Pet, | January 11, 2024


In some laws, the one-bite rule may state that the owner of the dog will only be liable for injuries caused by the pet if the owner knew about the animal’s aggressive tendencies. Sometimes called the one-free-bite rule, this could eliminate the owner’s responsibility for the dog’s first bite. While one has been the norm throughout the country, many states have changed this so that owners may be fully responsible even if they had no solid reason to think their dog would be aggressive.

States With The One Bite Rule 

While laws are always changing, the following states still use the one-bite rule as of this writing:

  • Alaska

  • Arkansas

  • Idaho

  • Kansas

  • Maryland

  • Mississippi

  • Nevada

  • New Mexico

  • New York*

  • North Dakota

  • Oregon

  • South Dakota**

  • Texas

  • Vermont

  • Virginia

  • Wyoming 

*In New York, the one-bite rule applies to criminal liability, but not civil liability.

**In South Dakota, the one-bite rule applies as long as the owner kept the dog from running at large and maintained reasonable control over the animal. 

Strict Liability: The Alternative To The One-Bite Rule 

Unlike states that adhere to the one-bite rule, strict liability states can deem the owner responsible for any dog bite inflicted by their pet. Under strict liability laws, the owner may be responsible whether or not they could have prevented the incident and whether or not they should have reasonably known the dog had aggressive tendencies. 

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