Visitor Question

Both dogs escaped from their yards…

Submitted By: Anonymous (San Bernardino, California)

My dog (pitbull) happened to escape my back yard and my front yard is not fenced. At the same time another dog (German Shepherd) in the neighborhood happened to get loose from its backyard, and their front yard is not fenced either. Both dogs got into a fight and the German Shepherd’s ear was injured. Again both dogs escaped their yards.

Animal control was called. My dog is registered and has all shots. The officer did not give any citations but did give a warning about fixing both my fence and her fence. The owner of the German Shepherd did admit her dog escapes quite often. I gave my number to her in case there was any need for proof of vaccinations.

There was never any agreement that I would be responsible for her vet bill. Nor did I state I would offer to pay for any of her expenses. Now she is calling me telling me she got her vet bill whenever I want to come by and pay it. What are my options, being that both dogs were unleashed and free from their yard? Am I liable? How does this work? Thanks.

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 Anonymous,

In California, Statute §32.0108 (a) of San Bernardino’s laws states in part:

“(a) No person owning or having control of any animal shall permit such animal to stray, to run at large upon any private or public street, sidewalk, school ground, public park, playground, place of public assembly or any other public place or upon any unenclosed private lot or other unenclosed private place or upon any private property without the consent of the owner or person in control thereof. Parkways comprising the area between the street and sidewalk shall be included as private property for purposes of this Section”

Technically, you were both in violation of Section 32.0108. Without witnesses, it is really your word against your neighbor’s. There are a few ways to handle this…

First: Speak with your neighbor and tell her you just don’t believe it is fair for you to have to pay her veterinary bills, as both of you were in violation of Section 32-0108. Refuse to pay her bills and if she files a small claims lawsuit you can have the judge decide.

Second: Tell her in light of the tentative claim she has, you think splitting the bill is fair. She would then take her veterinary bills and divide by 2.

Third: Agree to pay the veterinary bills in full.

Unfortunately, if your neighbor remains firm in her position, and you refuse to pay, she may decide to sue you in Small Claims Court in the San Bernardino area. If that occurs you may contest the case, or enter into Meditation.

The worst part of the whole affair may be the disintegration of your relationship with your neighbor. Hopefully you both can come to an amicable agreement and remain on good terms.

Learn more here: Dog-on-Dog Aggression

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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