Visitor Question

Are we liable for our dog attacking a mean Jack Russel?

Submitted By: Terry (NC)

Our neighbor has a very aggressive little Jack Russell. He has bitten me and friends’ children, all in our yard. You cannot get near their house without it coming after you. He is very bad about sneaking up behind our older lab and biting her on the back of the legs. She is scared and runs with him biting her the whole way.

We have a Lab/Shar Pei mix who is not so forgiving. He rolled over one day to have his belly rubbed and this dog came up out of no where and bit his scrotum, not good. Since then our dog hates this little demon.

This weekend they were both in a field that was not ours or our neighbors and the little dog came up and bit our dog’s legs and there was a fight. We did not see it and neither did the neighbor, but the neighbors’ son said he did.

No one came to us about it until almost 2 days later, when they told us it happened and that we owed them money for the vet bills. We were outside all day and never saw or heard anything, our dogs appeared to always be with us outside. Are we liable? How can we protect ourselves? Thanks for any info you can give.

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.


Dear Terry,

From the facts you present, the dog fight seems to have ended in a “draw,” thus liability would be split 50/50. The only witness seems to be the neighbor’s son. Ask the neighbor’s son to tell you what he saw. Even if the neighbor’s son says the other dog was the aggressor, you can be sure the dog’s owners will not agree.

You can certainly contact the dog’s owners and ask them to compensate you for your dog’s veterinary bills. In the likley event they will not do so, your alternative would be to sue them in small claims court. They may do the same of course.

In North Carolina small claims courts, the maximum amount, or “jurisdictional” amount you can sue for is $10,000. Moreover, you will not need an attorney to file a lawsuit in small claims court.

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: January 21, 2015

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