Can You Sue Someone if their Dog Attacks Your Dog?
One of the most common questions we get involving dog bites has to do with filing a claim if someone else’s dog attacks your dog (or your other pet). Dog bite laws are largely geared towards circumstances where a dog bites a person, however, a dog owner can be liable for damages to your pet as well. Dogs can sometimes be aggressive and, in some cases, unpredictable. This aggression and unpredictability may arise from the territorial nature of dogs, because dog owners didn’t properly train or handle their dogs, or many other reasons. For many of us, dogs are like family – there is a good reason Americans spend billions each year on veterinary care, but in the eyes of the law, that is not always the case.
What Should I do if my Dog is Attacked by Another Dog?
If your dog is attacked by another dog, the most important thing to do is to take them to get veterinary care immediately, especially if the injuries to your pet are severe. Make sure to get the information of the owner of the dog that attacked your dog – their contact information, insurance information, and the name of their dog. You should also contact your local animal control to file a dog bite report (see our Dog Bite page for information about where to file a dog bite report). Make sure to document all medical treatment your dog receives, keep copies of all bills and payments, and request that the vet document the dog attack in their medical report.
What Can I Claim?
Unfortunately, in most cases, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover more than bills for veterinary care, boarding costs, or other associated costs of the dog. If a dog is a show dog or service dog, or if your pet is tragically killed, a claim can be made for the “real market value” of the animal. Dogs, while they may be our best friends, are, in the eyes of the law, seen as property. This means there can be limited legal options if your dog is bit or attacked by another dog. It will likely be difficult to recover anything for emotional distress, compensatory damages for pain and suffering, or punitive damages. If your vet bills are high enough, or the dog’s value is high enough, it may be worth filing a claim and/or lawsuit against the owner of the other dog directly. Generally, if the veterinary bills aren’t significant, your best bet may be to file a report with animal control and request that the other owner pay your veterinary bills directly.
What if I was Injured Protecting my Dog?
If your dog is attacked by another dog, you should not risk injury to yourself by breaking up the attack. However, if you did protect your dog or try to break up the fight and you are injured, you may be able to file a claim for any injuries you sustained. Take a look at our article, Can You Sue Someone if their Dog Bites You? to learn about pursuing legal action following a dog bite or attack.
Contact an Attorney
As we discussed, it may not be worthwhile to file a lawsuit or retain an attorney if your dog or other pet is bitten or attacked by another dog. There are exceptions to this, but generally speaking, it may not be economically feasible. If you do have questions about whether or not there is a viable claim, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.