Visitor Question

Do we have to pay pain and suffering for a dog getting attacked?

Submitted By: Robert (Lompoc, CA)

My son was watching TV and had the garage door open. My daughter’s dog was lying on a dog bed in the living room when he must have seen the neighbor and his small white dog cut across the driveway heading toward the alley. The dog ran out through the garage and attacked the neighbor’s dog.

My son ran out and separated the dogs. My daughter’s dog is a grey pit, which is very mellow and plays with other dogs and has never shown any type of aggression towards other dogs. We are not sure why she attacked.

My daughter offered to pay any vet bills because she felt bad about what had happened. The neighbor ignored the offer. About 3 months later we received a letter with the vet bill, stating we were being sued. We just received an order to go to small claims court and that the plaintiff wants $6,482.00!

He is showing the vet bill to be $3,982.05 and the rest is for pain and suffering. The bill we received with his letter was just under $2,000.00 for the vet. What can we do? How do we defend this? 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 Robert,

That is ridiculous. There is no “Pain and suffering” for the death of a dog, whether for the dog’s pain and suffering, or the purported vicarious pain and suffering of a dog owner. You can be confident the judge will do all he or she can not to laugh at the plaintiff’s demand.

At most, the judge might order you pay the amount of $3,982.05 for vet bills. And for the judge to do that, the judge would have to be thoroughly convinced the bills were reasonable and necessary for the treatment of the dog, and that those bills were the direct and proximate result of an unprovoked attack.

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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One comment on “Do we have to pay pain and suffering for a dog getting attacked?

  1. Nala says:

    Hello, My pitbull was bitten by a family Chihuahua. He retaliated like any other animal would, and did more damage than the chihuahua did. The chihuahua was taken to the vet immediately. I offered to pay the bill because I felt bad, although their dog started the fight.

    They had a option of saving the chihuahua by paying $650 dollars to bring the swelling down of the jaw and then taking him to an expensive specialist or paying $250 to euthanize him. Well, they choose to euthanize him.

    Now I’m having issues with them because they clearly state they didn’t see their dog bite mine. They want legal action. I did take my pitbull to get checked and well obviously he had a bite mark on top of his vein right by his rear leg by his hock.

    Now I need to know what should I do about this whole situation. I didn’t want it to extend since they are my family, but to what they said over the phone my dog died yours didn’t. Now I assume they want me to euthanize my dog. He’s never showed aggressive behavior or even played aggressively, so I don’t think it’s fair for me or him when I’ve been super cooperative.

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