Visitor Question

Off leash Pitbull attack…

Submitted By: Marianne (Brooklyn, NY)

I was walking my dog on a sidewalk near my home in Brooklyn. Out of nowhere charged an off leash pit bull, no collar, no leash. This dog lives across the street. He was not on the street when I came down the road.

My dog alerted me to him coming, he charged like bullet in silence. I was able to start spraying him with pepper spray before he made contact, and my dog jumped in front of me.

The pit bull then began attacking my dog.

The only reason he wasn’t able to do life threatening damage to my dog was because the pepper spry slowed him, slightly.

It took the owner four tries to pull him off my dog. The owner then turned, took his dog and went back in his home without a word to me.

The physical damage done to my dog was minimal, but he is now very fearful and is on medication. It’s going to take a lot of therapy training and rehab to try to make him comfortable in the world again. We may have to move because everything is scaring him, he doesn’t like to leave the house.

Aside from the vet bills, I’m wondering if I can go to the owner with all the cost of the the previous training their dog has ruined and all the training I need to repeat (I have scheduled a 3 day workshop out of state, so it will be the cost of that and travel) and any other therapies (acupuncture, water therapy, etc.) that may be needed to address his mental health.

This attack has changed his life and mine. What can I do? 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 Marianne,

The dog owner displayed negligence by permitting his dog to be unleashed. Under New York City’s Codified Rules Section 161.05:

“…a person who owns, possesses or controls a dog shall not permit it to be in any public place or in any open or unfenced area abutting on a public place unless the dog is effectively restrained by a leash or other restraint not more than six feet long.”

In your case, the dog owner’s violation of Section 161.05 displayed clear and unequivocal negligence. That negligence was the direct and proximate cause of your dog’s injuries.

While you have a right to be compensated for your vet bills, and the dog’s medications, it is a stretch to think the dog owner would also be liable for your dog’s therapy training and rehab, cost of moving, cost of the previous training, 3 day workshop, and/or other therapies including acupuncture, water therapy, etc.

You will likely not be able to find an attorney to represent you, nor will you succeed if you file a small claims lawsuit against the dog owner for anything but the vet bills.

Ask the dog owner to compensate you for the vet bills and dog’s medications. In some cases, damages to third parties inflicted by dogs are covered under homeowners insurance policies.

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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