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Old 02-11-2013, 11:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dog attacks dog

My GSD accidentally got out of the house and attacked a neighbors dog that was walking by. I was immediately there to grab him but the other dog did get bites on his leg that required stitches. The neighbor is furious and said he wouldn't press charges if I put my dog down (not an option) next he went on to say he will find an attorney and hopes we have good homeowners insurance.

So my question is, besides reimbursing the vet bills what more can he sue me for? My dog loves people and kids but gets aggressive only when he sees other dogs. He has been through 2 months of obedience training and I just scheduled more training to hopefully work on socializing him. I love him dearly and am getting scared since I don't know what the neighbor will try to do or what he legally can do... Please help!! I need advice!
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The only thing you can be sued for is the cost of the vet bills.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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get a lawyer right quick - who knows what they can sue for; emotional distress?
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zookeep View Post
The only thing you can be sued for is the cost of the vet bills.
In this society you can sue anyone for anything. Doesn't mean you will win but if you have the money you can take them to court.

I would contact your insurance company right away and let them know what happened.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Without the dog, I would go and talk to your neighbor. Now that you both have calmed down. Explain that you are willing to pay the full vet bill, and that you signed your dog up for more classes and you are going to crate him before you open the door for any reason. Explain that you are very sorry that this has happened.

If your back yard is fenced, you may even consider making the front door area totally off limits. Never leave this dog outside unsupervised whether in a fence or not. But if you make it a habit to go out the back door, into the fenced yard, and leave your yard with your leashed dog from there, you might avoid the charging out the front door thing altogether.

I think that she will only get vet bills from you, but it is hard to say. It is not fun. But most places have a 1 bite forgiveness, and biting a dog is not the same as biting a person. On the other hand, if animal control is involved, then that may be this dog's one misdemeaner.

If you have a family lawyer you might want to consult him and let him know the extent of everything.

I really don't think your home-owner's insurance should be involved at all in this as this was not a bite to a human, just a dog. With a human you can be totally traumatized and need therapy, and have pain and suffering, and maybe skin grafts, and maybe the spouse can sue for lack of services or however they can put that. The point is, with a human, I think it can get really ugly. Most places understand that dogs are indeed dogs when it comes to other dogs. And you will have to pay damages, not made up punitive damages. I think. I am not a lawyer and have not been faced with this yet.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Lawyer.
It's not good to give advice based on hearing one side of the story but also we don't even know what state you're in, etc.
Get an attorney and be prepared.
Have you paid the vet bills yet? Keep records of everything!
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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To be more accurate, I should have said the only thing they can recover for is the cost of the vet bills. Anyone can sue anybody for anything. The question is what can they successfully sue for.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Civilly, your liability exposure is limited to repairing "the property" (as dogs are viewed in most jurisdictions), which means vet bills. If the victim is special in some way that makes it more valuable, and that value is lost or reduced (show dog, valued breeder), then you could face that exposure, as well.

This should be a handleable amount and you should consider leaving your homeowners insurer out of it, if you can. They'll certainly pay it, but may drop you (try getting a new insurer if you've been dropped) or may condition your coverage going forward on a dog limitation of some sort (including "not that dog", not a GSD or other "aggressive" breed, not a dog over 20 lbs, etc.). The Very Real downside to not telling your insurer is that not telling them breaches a precondition to coverage. If the neighbor is really mad and files a suit (even one that might ultimately not succeed), you'd have to hire a lawyer or risk a default judgment (bad). If you then told your insurer, you could be told "sorry, you didn't report it promptly, so no coverage due to lack of compliance with conditions, best of luck." You'd then pay for the lawyer on your own. Or, your insurer could go ahead and pay for this claim, but drop you (see, "bad to be dropped," above).

Non-civilly, the neighbor could involve the authorities and what happens to your dog will depend on the laws of your jurisdiction. You may be confident your dog wouldn't do to a child what he did to the other dog, but you likely will not succeed in convincing your neighbors. In any event, neighbors don't like living in fear of a dog and they may attempt to make life rough for you and your dog until the dog's gone.

Tough situation, to be sure. Be sympathetic to the frightened/angry neighbor, offer to pay any/all expenses (may include neighbor's time off work, travel, etc. to give the dog care, vet trips, etc.), maybe offer to muzzle the dog when it's out of the house, that kind of thing. Anything to appease him/her and stop additional response.

As for the dog - I'm no expert, but it sounds like obedience training and more socialization may not impact either dog aggression or high prey drive. Under these facts, I'd consider finding someone who handles drivey dog issues like this for some one-on-one sessions, setups for failure w/E-Collar correction, and the like. S/he may suggest modifications to the home environment that permit the dog to believe it ranks at the pack's peak, thus making the world your dog's oyster.

Good luck.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would hold off on the home-owner's insurance until after I tried to talk calmly to the person. Why have a mark against your dog if you don't need it? If all they can charge is the vet bills (not sure), then you don't want to involve the homeowner's insurance.

Some policies do not insure if you have a GSD, and even if they do, they may drop you like a hot potato if you call them on this for now. Getting new insurance if your dog has a mark against him may be very difficult. I don't think if it is a dog-dog, but in our crazy society it is hard to say.

Get him back into classes and keep going, and keep going, and keep going at least until he passes his CGC.

Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone!! I live in California, and I was very nice with the neighbor and immediately offered to pay the vet bills.. But he wont give me his name or address so i cant cant reach him to discuss this and he wont call me after i gave him my number and the proof of vaccinations. I have already met with an animal control officer to explain my side of the story. So after she reviewed his complaint and my input the case was closed as accidental.

I forgot to mention the neighbor is fostering this puppy lab and said he is in training to be a see and eye dog. Also that he is worth 42k and isn't sure if the puppy will still be able to get trained. The animal control officer said he is probably speaking out of emotions cause a few stitches wouldn't stop a puppy from this special training. Luckily the puppy is alive and didn't need drastic surgery.

So I know he is upset and I want to do everything I can to make it right. But I'm worried that he is trying to blow this out of proportion and take advantage of this situation.

Most of all I don't want him to go after my dog!!
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