Visitor Question

Neighbor’s dog escaped and was injured on my property…

Submitted By: AJ (California)

Our neighbor’s dog escaped from their back yard and came onto our property. This prompted our dog to jump a fence (which he had never done) and give chase to the dog.

Our gardener happened to be there at the same time, so both dogs ran through an open gate from our front yard to the back yard.

The gardener, not knowing which dog(s) was ours, then closed the gate, thereby trapping both dogs in our back yard, unattended. Our dog took exception to having an un-neutered, un-invited male on his property and attacked the dog, causing extreme injuries.

The neighbor (who’s dog escaped and came onto our property) is claiming we and the gardener are liable for over $4,000 in vet bills. Are we liable? Can we defend against this? 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 AJ,

From the facts you present, you would NOT be liable for any vet bills. It is clear your dog was docile at the time your neighbor’s dog came onto your property. Your dog wouldn’t have given chase “but for” the other dog having come onto your property.

It’s more than a reasonable presumption your dog was protecting its territory. In doing so, it lashed out and bit the trespassing dog.

Your gardener didn’t know which dog was yours, and which dog belonged to your neighbors. Presuming he didn’t, he couldn’t have known your dog would attack the other dog. The gardener appears to have acted in good faith by keeping the dogs confined so they would not inflict injuries on passersby.

The entire matter would not have occurred but for the negligence of your neighbor. In some cases, it might be argued each dog owner is partially liable, but from your facts you don’t seem to have incurred even one percent (1%) of contributory negligence.

If your neighbor takes you to court you can file a counter-claim for the costs of your transportation to and from the courthouse, lost wages if you had to miss work, and other reasonable costs associated with your defense of the case.

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,


2 thoughts on “Neighbor’s dog escaped and was injured on my property…

  1. Anonymous says:

    Similar thing happened to us, a neighbor’s dog came into our property, we have an Invisible Fence to contain our own dog, but because the neighbor’s dog (and another neighbor’s dog) came into our property, my dog got angry and defended her territory.

    Sadly, the neighbor’s dog died, right on the boarder between our two properties.

    There were witnesses, the two trespassing dogs caused the fight, but we felt forced to put our dog down or else the neighbors will shoot to kill our dog, which could have resulted in harming our children, as the playground is near where it happened.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My neighbor’s dog came on my property (common occurrence). I have an underground electric fence that keeps my dog from leaving the property. My dog attacked the neighbor’s dog. Numerous times I told the neighbor to keep their dog off my property. I’m wondering if I’d be liable for injury to their dog.

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