Visitor Question

Neighbor’s pit bull killed my 5 lb poodle on my porch…

Submitted By: Penny (New York)

I live in NY State in Steuben County. I rent the downstairs apartment with a large front porch. The steps leading up to the upstairs apartment are next to my front porch. This morning I opened my front door, unaware the neighbor had his pit bull on a long rope tied to his steps, and my 5lb poodle came out behind me.

While on my porch by my door, the neighbor’s pit bull came onto my porch and attacked and killed my tiny dog. It happened so fast I was unable to respond, except to scream. My dog died within seconds on my front door mat.

When my dog followed me out the door, she didn’t bark or even go off the porch. She was basically right by me feet. I have had my dog for six years, she was one of my children. My daughter and my son’s girlfriend came immediately and cleaned the blood off the porch and took my dog and buried her.

The owner of the pit bull said he would have his dog put down today, but also told my daughter and my son’s girlfriend his dog had attacked other dogs before.

No amount of money can replace my dog…she was my very heart. I took today off of work and now 6 hours later I am just beginning to stop shaking and crying and now I am getting angry. My dog wouldn’t hurt a flea. She was totally helpless and I was totally helpless to help her. What if that had been one of my young grandchildren?

What are my legal options? Thank you.

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 Penny,

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law dogs are considered property. As a result, you would likely have the right to the replacement cost of your dog, and no more.

Unlike personal injury claims involving humans, where pain and suffering compensation may be allowed, there is no “vicarious suffering” compensation permitted for owners of dogs who have been injured or killed as the result of the negligence of another dog owner.

Vicarious means the emotional distress and/or pain of one person is transferred to another, although the transferee did not actually suffer the injury resulting from the negligence of a third party.

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: April 21, 2015

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