Our dog might have killed a neighbor's dog. What should we do?
I'm hoping you guys can help me figure out what we should do to resolve this appropriately and responsibly. Here's what happened as we know it:
The gate to our house was left unlatched. Our dogs, 2 huskies, were in the backyard for an hour or longer before they must've discovered the gate was open. After 30 minutes or so later, I realized they were not at the window watching us like they usually are. I went outside looking all over for them in the backyard and determined they were gone. One of my kids had re-latched the gate before I figured out the dogs had gone through it earlier. I instantly went looking for them, thinking they'll get run over or shot or stolen. I only had to go 3 houses down the street when I met some neighbors (we just moved here in May so I don't know any neighbors around here yet) who had my dogs leashed in their backyard. They told me that my dogs attacked a dog across the street and that dog's owners rushed it to the emergency vet.
My dogs have never escaped before and have never hurt another dog (though they've been attacked by many dogs of all sizes), and I've had them for 10 years now. We determined that my visiting Mother left the gate unlatched on accident, but that's not necessarily important. No one witnessed anything of the actual attack. I didn't know my dogs were loose. The other dog, a 4-lb teacup Chihuahua, was let out in its front yard off leash in the dark. The owner said she usually always goes out with it while it goes to the bathroom, but this time it was raining, so she went back inside to put shoes on while the dog was out front by itself. She told the animal control deputy that it took her about 3.5 minutes to get her shoes on. No one knows where the attack happened or who attacked who. I don't know which neighbors got to her dog first or who grabbed my dogs and leashed them. The deputy didn't seem to know either, and didn't seem to care.
The deputy wrote a report stating the both parties were to blame as neither of us had control over our dogs, and there was no proof that the attack happened on the other dog owner's property. The little Chihuahua was paralyzed and the owners decided to put it down. They had to drive an hour to the emergency vet. The deputy told me that I should offer to pay some (half or maybe more) of the vet bills, which I already knew to do, and am willing to do.
Here is my dilemma: the owners of the Chihuahua seem to want more and I'm not sure what to do. They are hinting that I should pay for some or all of their expenses to drive to the emergency vet. They are also telling me the dog cost them $1,000 to buy and keep reiterating that it was a "rare purebred dog" and difficult to find another one to purchase. They've told me that they plan on buying another one soon, but need the money from me to do so. I think they want me to pay half or all of the cost of their previous dog ($1,000), plus vet bills ($350) and driving expenses ($unknown amount).
I'm not sure how much is enough to pay, as I don't know who attacked who, and I don't know where the attack happened. I'm not sure what other factors should be considered. The deputy only mentioned helping to pay for vet bills. She did not mention a recommendation to pay for the original cost of the dog. She also didn't include driving expenses, but I can see how that could be added to the "vet expenses" overall total. I don't want to assume the deputy is an expert in this area just because she happens to be Animal Control, so I thought I'd reach out to you guys as I'm a previous member of this forum. I know I can trust you guys and will get many solid replies based off your previous experiences with this sort of thing. I've never had to deal with something like this and never thought it could or would happen under my watch.
Last edited by Cassidy's Mom; 10-02-2017 at 12:45 PM.
Reason: Changed thread title per OP's request