Who is Responsible for Unleashed Dog Attacking Dog on Leash?

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“My husband is being taken to small claims court. He was walking our two German Shephards one evening (both on leashes). He was walking through a vacant lot/field when a Great Dane came running toward him and our dogs. It was dark and our dogs attacked the Great Dane. Our dogs never got away from my husband and the Great Dane eventually got away and ran from the field, across the street and to its home. The owners of the Great Dane are now suing us for the vet bill. My question is, should we fight this? My husband was nowhere near the property that the dogs owners live on and the Great Dane came running at them. Had these people kept their dog fenced in and were this dog not allowed to run free, this unfortunate incident would not have happened. Should we be responsible for their vet bill even though their dog was allowed to run free and ours were both on leashes the entire time? ”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Most cities have laws requiring that dogs be on leash and under control when they are off the owner’s property, with certain exceptions such as designated off-leash dog areas. Assuming that your area has leash laws, because your dogs were being walked on leash at the time of the attack, the owners of the loose dog should be liable for any injuries caused by their dog being in public off leash.

In cities that have leash laws, an owner that allows his or her dog to run at large in public may be deemed negligent per se. Negligence per se occurs when a person violates a law, and the violation of that law causes injury that the law meant to prevent. In this case, the intent behind a leash law is to prevent injury to persons and animals that could be caused by dogs running at large. The owners of the loose dog would have been in violation of local leash laws and are liable for the injuries that their dog caused (both to your dogs and themselves). In areas without leash laws, the owners of loose dogs running at large may be held liable for standard negligence.

You should contact a local attorney immediately for advice.

Recommended reading (click on the picture):
Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must Have Book for Your Owner

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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