Pennsylvania Municipality Considers Muzzle Ordinance to Prevent Dog Attacks

Dog attacks can cause serious and even fatal injuries. It typically takes at least a year for scars from a dog bite to heal. Bad bites can permanently disfigure someone’s face. Children are frequently the victims. And attacks by pit bulls and other large dogs can be lethal.

Nationally, between 2006 and 2008, 52 people were killed in pit bulls attacks, according to data from, a website that tracks reports of dog attacks. If you have been injured in such an attack, consult with a lawyer about a premises liability claim.

In one Pennsylvania community, the response to dog attacks has taken a very specific legal form. In Bucks County, the borough of Bristol is considering an ordinance that would require all dogs over a certain size – not only pit bulls – to be muzzled when on public property.

The proposed ordinance came in response to two vicious dog attacks in less than two months. In the second incident, on January 2, a pit bull got out of a house through an open door and attacked both a smaller dog and that dog’s owner. The second dog’s owner had to be hospitalized and to undergo reconstructive surgery on one of her hands.

Bristol’s solicitor, William Salerno, told the audience at a council meeting last month that, under state law, if a dog attacks another animal or person, it must be muzzled. He explained that a muzzle does not a hurt a dog, and is a sensible step to prevent attacks from happening.

Under the proposed “leash law” ordinance, all dogs who weigh 25 or more pounds would be required to wear a muzzle on public property. So would all pit bulls and pit-bull mixes.