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Orange County, California

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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
Contributor •

Dog Attacks on Dogs

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I receive inquires regarding dogs attacking dogs such as the following, a few times a week.

While walking my pregnant Yorkie on a leash, she was ripped out of my arms and brutally killed by a large, unrestrained dog. My Yorkie suffered a horrible, horrible death. This is the most brutal and traumatic event I have gone through and there doesn’t seem to be any protection or justice for my pet. (paraphrased)

Dogs are “personal property” under the law and are treated as any other personal property we may own. When property is damaged or destroyed due to the fault of another person, our laws generally provide that the negligent party is responsible for the repair or replacement of the damaged property. For example,

If I negligently cause an auto accident and damage your automobile, I will be responsible for the damages I have caused to your auto. Therefore, I am responsible for the cost of repairing your auto to its pre-accident condition or paying the fair market replacement cost of your automobile.

Following that same reasoning, if instead of my automobile causing damage to property due to my negligence, my dog causes damage to property (another dog) due to my negligence, I am responsible for the damages my dog has caused. I am responsible for the repair or replacement of the damaged property. In the case of an injured dog, I would be responsible for any resulting medical expenses. In the case of my dog killing another dog, I would be responsible for the reasonable replacement cost of the dog. If the deceased dog was pregnant and the puppies did not survive, then the damages would include the value of the unborn pups.

Negligently injured people have a right to recover financial compensation for “pain & suffering”. Property, including dogs, do not have such a right. No matter how much suffering a dog may have endured in a negligent and horrible attack, neither the dog or its owner, are entitled to any compensation for “pain & suffering”.

Theocratically, under the laws of California, it may be possibly to make a case for “negligent infliction of emotional distress”. Under this theory, the deceased dog’s owner could demand compensation from the attacking dog’s owner for the emotional distress suffered in experiencing the event, fearing being attacked and watching the attack.
Under California law, dog owners are strictly liable for attacks on people (there are exceptions). This means that if you are attacked by a dog, the dog’s owner is responsible for all resulting damages, with very few exceptions. Generally, if the attacking dog’s owner owns a home, his/her homeowner’s insurance will cover all damages up to the general liability limit of the policy.
Please do not accept this very cursory overview of this subject as the complete or last word on the subject. There is much more law and theory that I could add. Please do not attempt to use this information as the full spectrum of information to be taken into account in dealing with the subject matter or your particular circumstance. If you have a legal questions or a claim to pursue, get a full consultation. The best personal injury law firms and the better law firms that specialize in dog bite or dog attack cases will provide an in depth, no cost to you, consultation. If you have questions or need some guidance, email or call us. We provide no cost, no obligation consultations to injured people and the family of deceased accident victims nearly every day.