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My neighbors dog attacked my dog on his property when we knocked on his door.

Valley Cottage, NY |

My neighbor borrowed my ladder for 3 months and when I needed it I went over to knock on his door to ask for it back. My dog followed me across the street and when his son opened the door he left it wide open and let their vicious dog out without trying to stop him and he attacked my dog and put 2 puncture wounds in his back. I called the vet and got a prescription for antibiotics which my neighbor said he would reimburse us for. I put the receipt in his box and he never responded. 1 month later I asked if they got it and said yes but it was the holidays and they were short on money. Which is not true. Now it is March and I saw them today to ask him again and he tells me I trespassed on his property and is not responsible for his dog getting out and attacking. Who's liable?

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Filed under: Small claims court
Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

Take it to small claims court. You've got a 50-50 shot. Here's why. Dog bite cases generally are strict liability, meaning that you would not have to prove liability. However, the limited defenses that are available to the offending dog owner include provocation and "trespass". Technically your dog was in trespass. Before you scream at the computer screen, you would certainly have the right to go to the door during reasonable hours and in a reasonable manner make a request for the return of borrowed property. However, after that the facts and application of the law to the facts become more complex in that you allowed your dog to follow you across the street. This was not a necessary act in order to retrieve the borrowed property, and so it could arguably be defended that the neighbor's dog, on it's own turf, was defending its propery against a trespass.

Thank your lucky stars that no person was hurt and that the worst of your damages according to your posting was the cost of a prescription.

Keep on the neighbor with 30 day demands, certified, and consider small claims court with the above in mind.

This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.


I agree with my colleague. The cost of antibiotics is quite small in comparison to the amount of time and money you will expend in trying to be "right", which, by the way, you are not. Your dog went on to their property, unrestrained by you, and their dog was on its own property, defending its owners. This is not a battle you will win.

Let it go.

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