Our dog wasn't tied up and attacked our neighbor's dogs...

by Carolina
(New Mexico)

Last night I let my dog go outside to "use the restroom" and he never came back. With the fact that I had to go to work the next day I decided one night away from home will be okay, especially since he's an outside dog anyways.

The next morning there was a man honking outside my window, yelling if that's my dog. When I went outside to see what was going on, I saw my dog sitting on the porch with blood on him. My neighbor started yelling at me that my dog has been harassing and eating their dogs' food for months already.

My dog is usually tied down, but he always breaks out of the leash and we don't always have money to be buy him a new one right away (that's why we've been keeping him inside).

So last night, when I let him out he attacked my neighbor's dogs and they will need to be hospitalized. What kind of trouble will we get into? Can we be charged with anything? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Our dog wasn't tied up and attacked our neighbor's dogs...":

Carolina (New Mexico):

As long as your dog didn't harm a person you won't have to worry about criminal charges being brought against you. There's a good chance you will be civilly responsible for all of your neighbor's dogs' veterinary bills related to the attack.

Unlike some other states, New Mexico does not have a state wide leash law. You should check with the city or town in which you reside. They may have a local leash law.

Whether a leash law exists or not, you were still negligent in allowing your dog to be unleashed and unconfined. Your negligence makes you liable for the damages sustained by your neighbor.

Those damages include the veterinary bills, medications the dogs may need now and into the future, the costs of boarding the dogs (if necessary) and the dogs' future medical treatment. This presumes these damages are directly related to the attack.

If you carry homeowners insurance, check your policy. There's a good chance the insurance will cover most of the damages. If you carry renter's insurance there's also a chance it may cover some of the damages. If you don't have homeowners or renters insurance to cover the damages you might want to speak with your neighbor...when he calms down.

It's a good idea to offer to pay for some of your neighbor's damages. If you are unable to work out a compromise with your neighbor you may be out of options.

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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Comments for Our dog wasn't tied up and attacked our neighbor's dogs...

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Aggressive dogs...
by: Anonymous

Two days ago my Cavalier got away from my husband and she got right through the fence of a neighbor's yard.

She was attacked by their dogs and killed. One is a boxer and the other is a mix. They are both bigger dogs. They also had a husky in their yard. I'm not sure if they're just watching it or if they got a new dog.

Their dogs also killed a neighbor's cat about a month ago. Also, the next door neighbor of the aggressive dogs had to call animal control numerous times before, because the dogs went after their family members.

Their kids couldn't even walk to the end of the driveway to catch the bus. They couldn't even walk to their mailbox!

I know that my dog shouldn't have gone into their yard, but it still didn't give their dogs the right to kill my dog for sport.

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