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Dog-to-dog aggression – who is liable?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | Injuries

Even the most endearing dogs can bite when threatened or feel territorial and defensive in a stranger’s presence. But instead of biting a person, what if another dog is at the receiving end of the attack? The situation quickly becomes dog-to-dog aggression and two dog owners sort things out to determine who bears responsibility.

Dogfight now, dog owners fight later

Every dog owner has a two-pronged legal duty to uphold – to prevent their dog from causing injuries to an individual and damage to personal property. Failure to maintain their duty subjects the dog owner to the state’s dog bite law.

Minnesota is a strict liability state, meaning the aggressor dog’s owner is liable for all injuries sustained by the victim. This liability hinges on proving that the situation meets the state’s requirements: The victim lawfully and peacefully stayed in a place until attacked by an unprovoked dog.

But if the victim is another dog, it’s not the usual case that the aggressor dog suddenly erupts. The more common scenario in dog-to-dog aggression is a scuffle between two dogs snapping at each other, making the attack’s circumstances more challenging to define. There are indicators to establish dog bite liability:

  • Enormous-sized dog breeds considered to have vicious propensities (i.e., pit bull and Rottweiler)
  • Prior complaints or history of violent attacks on other dogs
  • Running at large without a leash

Gathering sufficient evidence from the scene of the attack can contribute to a case’s success. The owner of the victim dog can collect information about the aggressor dog and their owner, photo and video footage, witness accounts, the incident’s location and all veterinary expenses for the treatment and recovery of the injured dog. If you also find yourself hurt while attempting to break up the dogfight, you may also seek damages.

A friendly reminder

Dogs are inherently friendly animals. But your life turns upside down when they attack or become attacked by another dog. When this happens, the priority is always to seek immediate medical attention to prevent serious infections or even death. Once everyone involved has received appropriate medical care, you must secure legal counsel to walk you through the extent of monetary damages under consideration.