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Who is responsible if my dog was bitten by another dog in a fight?

Ithaca, NY |

We were at my friends house for a BBQ. Knowing my dog takes awhile to warm up to other dogs, the friend brought his new dog outside. The friend told me his dog was very submissive and friendly (sometimes overly so, and other dogs would get annoyed, and that his dog has been in five fights at the dog park recently). Upon meeting, their body language was stiff. Ten minutes later, a fight broke out (we do not know which dog instigated). The friend broke up the fight, getting nipped in the process (we do not know by which dog). My dog ended up with a large tear in his ear, and the other dog was unscathed. My dog needed a $600 surgery. Who is responsible for those vet bills?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. If you both knew that both dogs had a tendency to fight, you may both be equally responsible. Your friend may have homeowner's insurance that may cover this situation for you.


  2. In new your if you can establish vicious propensities in the other person's dog then the other person in strictly liable of all damages. Vicious propensities can sometimes be shown by a history of fighting with other dogs including biting. This is not guaranteed. That is the answer under the law. Under a different authority, common sense, you are mostly responsible.... Bringing your own dog to a friend's house knowing that the friend has a new dog and that the dog was not used to your dog was unwise. Once you knew the dog had a history of fighting, as the guest, you should have removed your dog from the situation or exercised sufficient control to avert any conflict. Seeing that the initial interaction was stressed (stiff as you put it) you should have paid closer attention or removed your dog. Not knowing which dog started it is sure evidence that you were not handling your responsibility as a dog owner, with a dog away from your own home, in an appropriate manner. Poor conduct i think on your part but if i had to pick a winner under the law, assuming that your dog does not have provable vicious propensities, I would say that you would prevail.....


  3. Are you going to sue your friend? Chalk it up to a lesson learned and move on.

    Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change appropriately.


  4. Depends if you want to lose a friend or keep a friend. A lawsuit will have an uncertain outcome other than losing a friend.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.


  5. Jason laid it out well


  6. You can file your claim with your friend's homeownwer's insurance co or take him to small claims court. Either action is likely to jeopardize your friendship, so act with this in mind.

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