Visitor Question

Dog Broke Leash and Severely Injured My Small Dog…

Submitted By: Mike (Pittsburgh, PA)

A few days ago my girlfriend and I were walking our 6 year old Morkie along our neighborhood road. Our dog weighs approximately 12 pounds. As we approached a residence, the neighbor’s dog began barking and immediately charged at us, snapping its leash; the dog was in the front yard and not behind any type of fence.

The owner admitted via phone that the dog typically is not in the front yard and did not have a collar on. The dog (approximately 40-50 pounds, Poodle mix perhaps) attacked my dog in the throat and body. Our dog is now in critical condition and has had surgery (lung trauma with fluid/inflammation/edema, 2 broken ribs, opening in chest wall surgically repaired).

Our dog may not survive this attack. What recourse do we have as far as compensation should our dog pass away? Can we seek damages for mental anguish as well?

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Property/Physical Damage: Potential death of pet, surgery and care costs approximately $5000-$8000. Initial cost of pet: $800

Actions taken: Police report, surgery for pet, preparing for small claims court (or applicable court)

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.

Answer

Dear Mike,

Pennsylvania law is clear when addressing dog owner responsibilities. Under Chapter 8, Section 459-3085 of the Pennsylvania Revised Statutes, dog owners are required to confine their dogs to the dog owner’s premises, and there to be firmly secured by a collar and chain, or other device so the dog cannot stray beyond the premises of the dog owner, or the dog must be under the reasonable control of some person.

In this case, it appears the dog owner was in breach of Section 459-3085, and as a result, your dog was unduly harmed. As a result, you may be entitled to compensation representing your dog’s injuries and resulting expenses.

Contact the dog owner and request the following:

  • Your dog’s veterinary bills paid in full.
  • Your lost wages be reimbursed (in the event you had to take a reasonable and appropriate amount of time off from work to care for your dog).
  • Reimbursement for your dog’s medications, as well as any other reasonable and appropriate out-of-pocket costs required for the treatment and care of your dog for the injuries sustained in the recent attack.

To support your requests, have available copies of all the veterinarian records and bills, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, and a letter from your employer verifying the time you took off and the wages you lost while transporting your dog to and from treatment, and while caring for the dog at home. These are all costs which are reasonable and appropriate, and for which you should be reimbursed.

In many cases, homeowners insurance covers property damage and injuries, up to policy limits, caused by an insured’s dog. If this is the case, ask the dog owner for the name and contact information of his homeowners insurance company. Contact the insurance company and file a claim.

If the dog owner won’t comply with your reasonable requests, you can consider filing a small claims lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, Small Claims Courts are called Magisterial District Courts, and their jurisdiction (the maximum dollar amount the courts are permitted to hear) is up to $12,000.  You can download the Civil Complaint required.

Unfortunately, the law does not provide for payments for pain and suffering, mental anguish, or emotional distress suffered by dog owners whose dogs have been violently attacked.

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: October 19, 2017

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