they claim that my dog dug the hole under the fence. I was not home at the time, so i cant tell whose dog actually dug the hole. The neighbors dog crawled into my back yard and my dog killed it. The are threatening a lawsuit if I don't pay for their entire vet bill for $600. I don't think I am liable. What would likely happen if they sued me?
Environmental / Natural Resources Lawyer
I certainly doubt there is any theory that would likely make you liable for a trespassing dog. IF you had a known dangerous dog and failed to adequately keep the dog from roaming or away from other dogs or people - then it might be different - I do say MIGHT. Your dog was in a fenced area and the other dog was killed in your yard - so the other dog was entering your property without permission regardless of which dog dug the hole. On that note - has your dog ever dug under a fence before so another dog could get in???? Not likely, dogs dig so they can get out not let other dogs in. So, I would tell these people you are sorry for their loss but that you are not responsible for the dogs death. I can think of no small claims Judge who would not reason this in the same manner I did. Good luck.
Animal Law Attorney
On the facts as you state them, you are not liable for your neighbor's loss. This could change if someone witnessed your dog drag the neighbor's dog onto your property and kill it. Your homeowner's insurance may cover this depending upon your policy.
This is not to be construed as legal advice. I do not have an attorney client relationship with you.
Not only are you unlikely to be held legally liable for their loss of property (the death of their dog caused by the death of your dog) but they also could be cited by animal control/you could sue in civil court for permitting a trespass onto your property. I would report the incident to animal control and tell the neighbors you are sorry this happened (without admitting guilt), then leave it at that.
This post should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.<br /> <a href="http://www.joanbundylaw.com" target="_blank">Joan M. Bundy, Attorney at Law, Chandler, Arizona</a> |