Q: Our neighbors dogs pulled my dog thru their poorly secured fence & killed her, what can I do to hold them liable for it?
My 14 yr old daughter was walking our small dogs by our neighbors fence and one of their Husky dogs stuck it’s head thru the slats that had poorly secured chicken wire on it and bent the wire out of the way and grabbed my dog by her head and pulled thru their fence and attacked and killed her. The neighbors are saying it was all our fault and are not claiming any responsibility for anything but it just doesn’t seem legal that they have a poorly secured fence where their dogs can pull other small dogs thru and kill them. Animal Control said it was out of their jurisdiction since it happened in city limits and so far the City Police haven’t done anything about it except tell them to reinforce their fence. Can’t they be charged or at least citied or fined for having an unsafe poorly secured fence that lead to another dogs brutal death? And shouldn’t they have to help pay my vet bill?
A: If your neighbors are homeowners or have renters insurance they might be worth suing. To do a full analysis, an attorney would need to know the city and county, as local laws vary. If this occurred in a city, then there may be some laws about owners being liable if their dogs are at-large. One could make an argument that their dog left the property when he moved his head away from the owner's property and over the public sidewalk. If they were to successfully claim that your dog voluntarily went onto their property, then there would likely be no claim, as your dog would be the trespasser. They may also claim contributory negligence if your dog was too close to the fence, but I think that is a weak argument if your dog was leashed and on the public sidewalk or street. Your damages would likely be limited to your actual monetary damages. If your damages are under $10,000.00 there may be attorney fees available if a lawsuit must be filed after a properly prepared proof of loss is sent to the dog owner.
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