Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Maryland

Q: What is my liability?

My dog killed my neighbors outdoor cat last night. My dog got out of our fence and we found my dog and their cat on their front lawn. We have no idea whether the dog ran into the cat in the woods, or on their property. We all heard a commotion and then saw the dog looking over the cat while it was laying on the ground. Their cat is kept outside and has a house on their front porch. Neither were on a leash and we can't tell where the dog met up with the cat since it's an outside cat. What should we do? Our neighbor is devastated.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer

Mark Oakley

  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: There are two issues here. The first is whether your neighbor calls the local Animal Control office and files a dangerous dog report, which could trigger a review on whether your dog is too dangerous to be kept (and risk euthanasia). More likely, you as the owner would simply be cited for the dog running loose, as opposed to your dog being put down. However, a finding of aggressive behavior once can be used to put the dog down should a second aggressive incident be charged and found to have happened. These outcomes often are dictated by local county or city ordinance and code provisions. The second concern has to do with the cat owner filing a civil claim for the loss of their cat, in which case you turn the matter over to your homeowner's insurance, which will retain and pay a lawyer to defend any lawsuit, as well as pay any judgment under your policy.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.