If my dog is on-leash in a on-leash only area, and he bites an off-leash dog who approaches him, who is liable?

Asked about 1 year ago - Portland, OR

Our dog has never bitten anyone/thing, but he is very protective and doesn't like to be approached (aggressively or otherwise) by dogs when he's on a leash. Recently a much smaller off-leash dog attacked him while we were walking down a sidewalk... thankfully the situation didn't escalate. But if it had, would we be responsible for injury to the dog who initiated the attack? What about in areas with strict rules (public parks/trails etc.)?

Additional information

-->As of yet the situation is strictly hypothetical, as no real injury occurred. However, my dog is a pit bull (a very well behaved/trained pit bull adopted as a puppy). I feel like a walking liability just owning him, sometimes, given how most people feel about the breed. I often take him on public trails, and in Oregon the on-leash rule is clearly posted at every trailhead, but many countless people don't follow them. All I want to know is if an off leash dog aggressively approached my dog in such an location and my dog bit it, would I still be responsible (given their dog is supposed to be on leash on the trails)? Again, my dog has never bit another dog, but he will growl/bark/lunge if he's threatened.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. J. Richard Kulerski

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . All case law is determined by the individual facts of each occurrence. Until you can provide an exact set of facts, it is impossible for a lawyer in your state to give you a responsible answer. Common sense could be applied to your question if the facts were just that simple, but there are often varying facts that can affect the answer.

  2. Jason Todd Studinski

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Report this claim to your insurer. Also consider consulting with a local personal injury/insurance lawyer to learn more about your options. Good luck.

  3. Peter Christian Komar

    Contributor Level 14

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with the above attorneys answers

  4. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . State laws vary, but typically the dog owner is responsible.

  5. Erin Cecil-Levine

    Contributor Level 11

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I'm sure you know this already, but if your pooch goes for another, please PLEASE do not stick your own hands in to separate the dogs. We don't want you getting bit. If the other dog's human is stupid enough to do so that's another story... Take your furble by his hind legs and do a "wheelbarrow" with him to get him off balance. That should take him out of the scuffle in theory and then what the other dog does will still be aggression if he or she keeps going at your critter. And then if that is the case, you have me and a couple of other Portland Animal Law attorneys to help you. :)

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Related Topics

Types of personal injuries

There are many types of personal injuries for which financial damages can be awarded, including physical, emotional, and psychological injuries.

Dog bites and injuries

The most common animal attacks are dog bites and other injuries caused by dogs. The owner is often held liable, although states vary regarding responsibility.

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