Visitor Question

Dog Play Date Turned Bad…

Submitted By: E (USA)

Dog A went to Dog B’s house for a puppy play date.

Dog A was not with his owner (Mother of the owner) and Dog B was with his owner. Dog B’s owner rents the apartment that was attached to the yard where the dogs were playing.

These two dogs had played together once before without incident, and the two adults started chatting and were not paying attention to the dogs.

The conversation was interrupted by yelps, and the women saw that Dog A had Dog B by the nape of the neck.

Dog B was attempting to pull away from Dog A and bit him on the ears.

After the fight, the owner of Dog B mentioned that she had noticed that her dog kept trying to play with Dog A, but it seemed like that dog was nervous and kept moving away.

Both dogs were cleaned up and went their separate ways.

The next day, Dog B went to the vet because he had continued bleeding at the site of the wound. Dog A ended up going to the vet also, as there appeared to be an abscess forming.

Dog B’s owner is now asking for the vet bills to be paid along with transportation to the vet clinic – it appears that after the original vet visit, the wound became infected and the bills have piled up.

I believe that homeowners insurance has also been mentioned, however, Dog A’s owner does not own the home – it is rented as well.

The owner’s mother of Dog A owns the building…so Dog A is not her property.

My questions are:

What is the legal responsibility for both parties?

Who is legally responsible for the vet bills?

Would that just include the original vet visit or subsequent visits due to infection?

Both women were not paying attention to the dogs, and both did not cue in to the fact that the dogs were acting much differently from the initial visit. Thanks for any info.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear E,

E (USA)

The questions you present can be answered fully within the following discussion of salient legal issues…

Under the circumstances involved in the mutual injuries to the dogs, neither dog owner is legally responsible for the injuries, vet bills, or out-of-pocket expenses for transportation, meds, etc. To be legally responsible, one or both parties must have been negligent.

In this case, it doesn’t appear either party exhibited negligence. This is especially true because the dogs had previously visited without incident.

If the property owners of both respective properties decide to, they can each file a claim with their respective homeowner’s insurance companies. While there is no guarantee the insurance companies will pay, you can at least try to pursue the claims.

The alternative is for one or both dog owners sue each other in small claims court. Once again, the claims will likely fail as negligence doesn’t appear to have to have existed.

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

Best of luck,

Published: June 28, 2014

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