Dangerous dog runs off property and attacks leashed dogs...

by J
(McHenry, Illinois)

My dog has been attacked 3 times by the neighbor's dog. Twice the attacks were in our own yard; once was while my dog was leashed and walking in the street. Two attacks were reported to the police. Only once did the police report the attack to Animal Control. Two other leashed dogs have been attacked while on the street. There may even be more that we are not aware of.

My dog received injuries resulting in a stay in the hospital. The costs are upwards of $1100 so far, with more vet bills to follow.

We would have to sue for the vet bills, but we also would like the dog removed from the property as a danger to the community since no one is able to walk a dog down the street without fear of having the leashed dog attacked by the dangerous dog.

The vicious dog is well over 100 pounds; my dog is 40 pounds. The other dogs that we know were attacked range from 20 pounds to 65 pounds.

Can I sue in small claims court for the vet bills, and also claim punitive damages for loss of pet or contributory negligence on the part of the attacking dog's owner?

The owner has threatened one dog's owner who did report the incident to police, causing fear of reprisal from the attacking dog's owner. People as well as pet owners fear this mean dog and his owner too. What can be done about this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Dangerous dog runs off property and attacks leashed dogs...":

J (McHenry, Illinois):

You have an absolute right to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. You can do so in Small Claims Court.

Illinois Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear lawsuits up to $10,000. According to the Illinois Attorney General, Small Claims Courts can hear cases involving "...breach of contract, property damage, or personal injury." As cold as it sounds, your dog's injuries would be considered property damage.

You also have a right to sue the dog owner for your "out of pocket" expenses for such items as medications for the dog, the costs of travel to and from vet appointments during the dog's treatment and recovery, and for your lost wages during the time you are required to take your dog to the vet or hospital for treatment directly related to the attack.

Judges in Illinois Small Claims Courts are not permitted to award compensation for pain and suffering, nor can they award punitive damages.

Fore more information about Illinois Small Claims Courts, including access to forms and procedures go to the Illinois Attorney General's website.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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