Dog owner liability and compensation.

////Dog owner liability and compensation.


My service dog died after my neighbor's dogs were running at large, and one of the three bit him, causing his ribs on one side to be broken and puncturing his lung. I have had an ongoing problem with these dogs chasing my livestock over the past three years. The neighbor has an invisible fence to keep his dogs home. Is the neighbor liable for what happened to my dog, and am I entitled to any compensation for the loss of my service dog or the pain and suffering I am going through?


I am very sorry to hear about your dog. People whose dog died as a result of being attacked by another dog can sue to try to get compensated although I realize that no amount of money will ever truly compensate a person for such a terrible loss. Worth noting is that homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies sometimes cover dog bites.

While most courts do not award substantial amounts of money when an animal is negligently injured or killed or consider the emotional distress the animal’s “parent” suffered as a result, some courts have. In a California case where a dog’s “parent” alleged that a veterinarian’s misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments caused her dog’s death, the jury found that the market value of the dog was $10 but assessed the special value of the dog to be $30,000 and awarded another $9,000 to the plaintiff for overpayment to the veterinarian. Evidence that a dog who was killed was a service dog should affect the amount a court awards (that is if the court finds, based on the evidence presented, that the “parent” of the attacking dog was at fault).

Also, California’s law states: “For wrongful injuries to animals being subjects of property, committed willfully or by gross negligence, in disregard of humanity, exemplary damages may be given.” Exemplary or punitive damages are sometimes awarded when a defendant’s actions were egregious but are not awarded nearly as often as compensatory damages, which include such things as the monetary value of the animal and veterinary fees to treat the animal for injuries sustained from the attack.

Animal Control can also be contacted to report dog bites. A dangerous dog hearing may be held. If a dog is declared potentially dangerous, the court may order the dog’s “parent” to take certain precautions, such as having a secure fence to confine the dog. California’s state law defines “potentially dangerous dog” as “Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36–month period, has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury attacking a domestic animal off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog.”

Some localities may have stronger dangerous dog laws than the state law so local laws should be checked. Again, I am very sorry for your loss.

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By |2024-05-06T11:11:59-04:00March 6th, 2024|