Skip to main content

Is landlord responsible to take action against tenant whose pit bull attacked my dog? Landlord says no, it's a domestic dispute

Fort Myers, FL |

I was walking my 2 dogs in apt complex. 2 dogs broke loose from owner & charged us, one was pit bull. The pit chased my dog over bridge in our complex & attacked my dog. When my dog was trying to run away, her collar came off. My dog needed 6 staples to close the wound. Pit not injured.Next morning, we both reported incident to landlord. Landlord said since both dogs were off leash, it's not their problem. Was told it was domestic issue. They have breed restrictions & I mentioned that at least 6 pits are on the property. I told her I no longer feel safe. Can I break lease for landlord not abiding by their policy: "must remove animal from premises if we receive "reasonable" complaint from resident."

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

I disagree with the landlord's assertion that an attack by a tenant's dog is some mere "domestic issue." A landlord may generally be liable for harm inflicted by a tenant's dog if the landlord knows or reasonably should know of the potential danger.

This answer is made available by an attorney licensed to practice in the state of Oregon. The communication is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Actual legal advice can only be provided by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies. By using or participating in this site, you understand that there is no attorney/client relationship or privilege between you and the attorney responding.

Keith G Langer

Keith G Langer

Posted

The assertion that a conflict between mere tenants and not members of the same family or in a dating relationship is a "domestic issue" is absurd. The landlord is trying to evade his responsibility.

Posted

I believe that if the dogs are off leash and not in a fenced area then he is not responsible, the owners are. However, there might be some issues if there had been previous incidents. You may want to check with an animal lawyer.

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******

Asker

Posted

1. They were all on leash before incident happened. She wasn't strong enough to hold her dogs back when they began charging us. I found my dog's collar on the bridge and her leash was still in my hand. She was being chased and tried to get away, rightly so. 2. What about their policy regarding reasonable complaints from residents? 3. How about the breed restriction issue and the fact that there are at least 6 pit bulls living here?

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

Some of those questions are beyond my expertise. Also, I am somewhat biased, because I am adamantly opposed to breed specific legislation and I own pit bulls. Although I do not believe in people mistreating pit bulls or not caring for them properly. But you can see why an animal lawyer, and one who maybe has a more neutral approach, might be a better person to answer some of your specific questions.

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

Although I will say that if her dogs were chasing yours down, then she did not have them under control, and if they were attacking your dog, she did not have them trained. Pit bulls are great dogs, in my opinion, but they are strong and opinionated, and they are terriers. They need owners who know dogs.

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

Also, if there had been previous complaints, that may have created a duty regarding the landlord - you may want to check with a personal injury attorney regarding that issue - although most courts consider animals to be property, some courts have considered the emotional attachment that people have to their pets and have addressed that issue in terms of damages.

Asker

Posted

Pit bulls are great dogs but you better know how to control them, especially in an apartment environment. I never thought I'd have to go through a pit bull attack and it's something I never want to go through again. Now I know why there ARE breed restrictions.

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

Having six pitties in an apartment situation is not a good idea -- they need more space. And clearly that woman did not know how to control them. Any dog attack is a horrible thing to go through, and what is even worse is that 99% of the time these things are preventable. I hope that you are able to get this issue resolved in the best way for everyone, and so that no one is injured going forward.

Posted

Based on the information you provided, I would initially look into filing a small claims action against the owner of the pitbull. Bring the vet bill.

If you want to terminate the lease agreement, you would first have to issue a 7-day notice of material non-compliance and give the landlord an opportunity to order the animal removed from the premises. If he takes reasonable steps, such as issuing a 7-day notice to the offending animals owner, you would likely have to stay until he simply stops making any efforts.

You should time that 7-day notice to be delivered (certified mail, return receipt requested) 8+ days before your next rent is due, or you'll have to pay another month worth of rent.

If there are no reasonable steps taken to resolve the issue, send another letter to the landlord (certified mail, return receipt requested) terminating the lease at the end of whatever current rental cycle period you are in.

Tips:
- Have a place to move to (even temporarily) before doing this.
- Prepared to be sued (possibly for eviction), landlords generally don't appreciate tenants getting heavy handed with their rights.
- Expect the landlord to keep whatever security deposit you gave to commence the lease. You will need to sue to recover that. (Take VERY DETAILED pictures of the apartment after you move out to show a judge you did not damage it.)

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER This answer is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between any user/reader and The Law Offices of Jimmy Allen Davis, P.L.. We encourage and welcome you to contact us about your legal problems and visit our website at www.lawofficesofjimmyallendavis.com or email me at jimmy.davis.esq@gmail.com.