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Old 07-18-2013, 07:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Who is responsible if dogs get hurt while playing?

I was just glancing over the O.M.G. thread and thought I would start a new one, as I am wondering, how owners feel, in general not that particular situation, about when dogs get hurt when playing at dog parks or just playing with other dogs, as far as responsibility for costs incurred?

When Heidi was young, she used to like to play chase with the other dogs at the dog park, and twice she nipped another dog's rear. The first time, I did not offer to take responsibility because, without going into detail, I did not see any injury and I felt that the owner was just trying as an afterthought to get money out of me. The second time I did see that the other dog (it was a greyhound, imagine Heidi "catching" a greyhound!) had a bite, and the owner said she didn't think he needed to go to the vet, but I gave her my phone number and begged her to call me if he did because I wanted to pay for it. I never heard from her.

So, I am just wondering: when dogs get hurt when playing, is it just an assumed risk we take when we let our dogs play with other dogs? Or is it the responsibility of the owner of the dog who caused the injury to pay the vet bill? I'm not sure how I feel, but I think I pretty much fall into the first camp that it is at your own risk, crap happens. Needless to say, Heidi stopped going to dog parks, but I can't imagine myself asking someone for money if my dog gets hurt playing. I'm talking about off leash play in a situation where both parties have agreed that our dogs should play; if Heidi is leashed and an off leash dog approaches us, that is another matter.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It would depend. Did my dog get attacked? Or was it an accident during play? If Jax hurt another dog during play, and I knew for sure she did it, I would offer to pay part of it. If she attacked, I would grovel and pay all of it.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My first German Shepherd bit the neighbors pup and torn its ear where it attaches to the head. It required several stitches to reattach it. I offered to pay the vet bill but the neighbors declined and said it was their sons fault for letting their pup in our yard.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's great to have reasonable neighbors, isn't it?

I guess I'm not talking about an attack. Hopefully, if a dog is prone to that, a person would know it and not let them play with dogs. Although, I realize there is a first time for everything. I'm really just talking about injuries either from play or maybe one dog has had it and gets snarfy with a playmate.
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It really depends on the situation....
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yea I would say it depends I try not to let my dog get more than 5ft from me when playing with other dogs also when she is playing after min or two I break it up and give both dogs a break. It teaches them to take a break when playing and will help prevent one or the other dog from getting mad and lashing out.


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Old 07-18-2013, 08:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That's a good idea!
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If your talking about a play date situation, I think you have to consider at the OMG thread. It's a good example of what can happen. No one seen it, but a wound was there. I think the OP of the thread was comendable for offering to pay half the vet bill in the first place.

In those situations of having play dates, it may not be a bad idea if the two parties make an agreement on how injuries will be delt with whether incidental or not. That way there is no gray area. Each owner knows where they stand in a situation. I would definitely put it in writing. If they don't want to sign, or agree, then you can either work an agreement out, or you can just walk away. Walking away is probably the better option if they don't want to agree and sign or are reluctant to sign.


As far as dog parks, I look at it as every dog for themselves including owners. Unless you have witnesses of negligence, your not going to get anyone to pay for anything.
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
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IMO in mutually agreed upon off leash play dates/dog parks....unless the dog that bit/injured another dog has known history of dog aggression it should be 'at your own risk' for all parties.

That won't stop some people from trying to capitalize on accidents though. Then, unless there was an agreement before hand, you're at the mercy of the judge/court, who may or may not be dog savvy person(s).

Last time I was working on proofing with distractions (outside of the off leash area at the local park) a human fight broke out because someone's dog did not have good doggy manners.

Personally, I avoid the whole problem by not allowing my dog off leash with dogs owned by other person's whether at a dog park or a private residence, only exception is with my trainer's dogs.
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Me too. We don't go to dog parks anymore (even with my lab who probably could) and I am VERY careful what dogs I let her play with.
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