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Dog bites dog: Who’s to blame?

My mutt was walking off leash at the park with me last week. The back of the park borders some backyards, which is where we were walking when a toy poodle came bounding out from one of the yards. It left its yard and ran right up to Ace, barking. Ace was busy looking for a stick, and the dog startled him. Both dogs were friendly, so there were no issues. I pulled Ace along on our walk, and a man came out and got his dog after unsuccessful coaxing from the door.

But this situation could’ve gone a lot differently had it been two different dogs. It made me think about who is to blame when a dog bites another dog. If my bigger dog had felt threatened and bit this little dog, would it be my fault?

Both dogs were off leash, neither were 100 percent under control, and the smaller dog was the one provoking the bigger dog. Let’s say the little dog bit my dog on the leg, enough to draw blood. But then my dog bit back, hurting the little dog more severely or even killing it. My dog would be the one labeled a dangerous dog, when the smaller dog was the one who attacked in the first place, unprovoked.

I guess the moral of the story is you can only be responsible for your own dog. I can’t control the fact that some idiot leaves his poodle alone without a leash in a nonfenced yard. But I can control my dog’s response, and if I can’t trust him 100 percent, then he shouldn’t be off leash for his own safety as well as others’. The same is true for possessive dogs at dog parks. They just shouldn’t be off leash.

I worry about that little dog, because who knows what kind of trouble it could get itself into. It shows no fear, and not all big dogs are gentle like my mutt.

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Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 4th of April 2009

I'm sorry about your parents' poodle. But that is a good example. Thank you for sharing that. If my dog ran over and got attacked by another dog because I didn't have him under control, I wouldn't blame the other owner or dog either.

Shane Tommerdahl

Saturday 4th of April 2009

When I was young my parents had a tea cup poodle along with a couple of doberman pinchers. Any way they took the poodle with to visit my grandparents. When they let him out of the car they expected him to run to the house. But there was a shepard on the other side of the street that he ran to instead. Barking and growling. The shepard grabbed him shook him and killed him in a matter of seconds. My parents were very upset but did not blame the other dog or the other dogs owner. They realized that it was their fault for not having Tiker on a leash. It was a hard lesson for all of us.

Jesse

Saturday 4th of April 2009

Thanks for the reply. He was very aggressive and I think he was exagerating because $250 doesn't get you much at the vet except for a check up.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 4th of April 2009

I am sorry this situation happened to you.

I do hate it when people run their dogs by having the dog chase the car. I know some very good people who do this and it bothers me. It is dangerous.

I'd say you are both to blame. Both dogs were unleashed and not under control, especially your dog because you were in your car and would not be able to get out fast enough to stop your dog. In most areas there are leash laws.

Also in most areas, there is no one legally at fault unless the dog bites a human. Since the other owner can't prove your dog bit his dog, then you don't owe him anything. If you want to be nice and pay part of the vet bills, go ahead. It is very possible that the dog was bitten and you just didn't see it, especially because goldens have long hair.

Jesse

Saturday 4th of April 2009

Yesterday, I was running my olde english bulldog up a backwoods road very isolated like I always do. I was in my car as my dog ran behind us. Someone was also on there way down the hill with their golden retriever. I noticed my dog got startled so I stopped the car as my dog was trying to get his dog. I never saw my dog bite his dog successfully. As my friend tried to grab my dog the man kicked my dog as hard as he could and then we were able to get control of my dog. I wasn't offended by the fact that he kicked my dog. None of the dogs were on a leash. Both dogs walked away unharmed (no blood or yelping). My friend went back recently only to find this rude person there again. Unfortunately, my friend got yelled at for something he had no responsibility for. This person claims they spent $250 at the vet for stitches. He insisted my friend was at fault knowing that he isn't even the owner of the dog and my dog wasn't even there the second time they met. Who's to blame and who should pay the bills?